Untitled (Compilation, closed (M))

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Untitled (Compilation, closed (M))

Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Tue May 15, 2007 10:26 pm

OOC: As I finish chapters, I will copy and past them into single posts, edit them for spelling and grammar and possibly revise bits of them and then post them here. This is more for my own convinience than anything else

** Oh, yes, and everything here is copyrighted as well. No touchy.
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...
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Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Wed May 16, 2007 7:56 pm

"What man has written, man may read,
But God fills every root and seed,
With cryptic words, to strangely set
For mortal to decipher yet”

-Charles Dalmon

She ran, she skidded, she clawed her way along with every bit of speed she could muster, but strangely, in the calm depths of her mind, she knew it would not be anything like as much as enough. The Beast rushed through the woodlands, crashed through the gates that barred access to the remnants of the city, and cut like a huricane of claws, hatred, and rage through all that stood in its way. The flickering light of the storm gave Him an even more despicable and loathsome presence; a beast of wing and claw and gleaming eyes winking in and out of existence. One moment the lightning would shed light upon him, and by the next flicker of blueish white he would be gone.

There was silence aside for the storm. She felt the pulse and beat of his rage in the clouds, throbbing from the land and air. She scrambled lithely down empty streets, their occupants long having fled to safer places. She was alone with the Beast.

All alone.

She turned a corner and felt something icy and strong grip her around her waist. Kicking and screaming, she was hefted from the earth by an inhuman, somehow unreal hand, and held aloft to a leering face and eyes as bottomless and fathomless as wells of night.

The Beast roared in delight, pranced with childish glee. Its massive bulk towered over the city, mammoth and grotesque. If ever there was a creature to rival that of God Himself, then this would be it. She withdrew into herself as she felt its malevolent will focus about her.

"Filthy child of sidhe! Raise a hand to your own God, will you now?" The beast roared. She turned her head in revulsion, and instead was thrust forward for closer examination by the monstrous beast. He laughed, an ancient horrible sound that grated at the base of her spine and made her shudder in revulson. "Renounce the false one and I shall restore you to glory, even though you lifted one of your dainty fingers. And with scorn, tried to end mine own life." It spoke in much more level tones. They seemed sweet words...compared the horrors that it would most certainly force upon her should she not bow to its whims.

"No." She said, but meekly. The response was greeted with horrible laughter, such that the Beast practically rolled on the ground, if not in reality. Once it had gained its composure, its formless bulk settled to the ground.

"Then I grant you a boon, oh young one. I grant you the boon of eteranl life, yet that you allready have that must I put a twist in it." He said savagely, then demured to civility. "Oh yes. Long have I watched your efforts. Those fools' god put strange ideas in your head. They renounce the old and worship the new. So I will allow you to view what their faith will buy them. That is my twist." He said, then laughed gaily. "Yes, that is as the human children are fond of saying, the catch." He laughed again, and then threw her to the ground with crushing force. She felt bones snap as she hit, but her consiousness remained firm. A massive, shapeless appendage stomped down on her chest, and with it came a chorus of pain. A symphony of savage agony assailed her, and then the last of her consiousness threatened to give way to the silence of the dark.

But she heard his voice, all the same. It threatened to shatter her sanity, for each word was spoken as a pure truth, an undeniable fact.

"While you slumber beneath this land, damned by myself to isolantion for a thousand years, this land she become mighty by the blessing of those fools' nailed god. However, by the time you awaken, it will have fallen into the deepest pits of death and damnation. It will be dominion of mine kith and kin." He intoned. "I shall release them from their imprisonement that they may be the tyrant rulers of mankind, and all of the other insignificant races of this land. By the time you awaken....everything will be so far gone that not even an army of you and your ilk could change anything. Darkness will reign eternal, and become light, and the light, and all that is good, shall become evil.

Now I bid thee sleep, and deeply, while you mend from your wounds. When you awaken....it will be as though it never were." He rumbled to a close, and laughed dryly as the last of her mind slipped into darkness.


And so it played in the mind of the sidhe, of the last of her kind, as she slumbered away the millenia.
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...
User avatar
Seska Dragonslayer
Flaming Toaster
 
Posts: 2060
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Personal Universe v2.01.05

Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Wed May 16, 2007 8:03 pm

I. Upon a Twilight Eve.

"Incredulous at best your desire to believe in
Angels in the hearts of men."

-Tool

She woke with a start. Beads of sweat, cold on clammy skin, flew in the frigid dark, landing on dusty floors where man had long since tread. The musty stench of eternal rot and disuse filled this place; filled her nostrils with a scent unaccustomed and unknown.

The girl child-apparent lay on the stone slab, feeling the weight of centuries in her limbs. Her mind fervently refuted the ghastly ghost-vision that had been imprinted upon it by dream or nightmare, providing other alternatives than the defeat it knew it had suffered. Victory parades danced in her heart, visions of people cheering the fall of darkness. Her mind provided the cold hard facts. Eventually.

She lay in stone cold bed, pondering. Time passed. Eventually, with the dust of ages shifting and sliding from her young frame, she sat upright and stared sightlessly into the gloom. Deep though it was, it was not perfect, except for in a corner of this chamber she had lain in; there the darkness was so deep and bottomless that she felt her soul in jeapordy simply by being near it. It sucked at her like a blackhole, beckoning, but she would not listen to its dark melody. Instead, she got to feet that felt full of led, sinking into the floor as though it were mud rather than dust. Clouds of the stuff sputtered as she took tentative steps toward the vague light, dirtying the allready blood-stained, faded-to-grey dress she wore. Her mind turned words over and over again, replaying the last moment of awareness with a surreal vividness. Over and over again she watched herself die.

Here she was reborn.

There were stairs, made of some strange stone that was seamless and most defniately man-made. At least then, she knew, the world of the hume-children had not flounder and fallen following her demise apparent. No, they had continued on. Perhaps the dark beasts' warnings were empty. Perhaps he had perished long ago...

Yes. Perhaps he had perished and death had never consumed her in the first place. She had slept.

At the top of the stairs was a strange door wrought of metal. She stopped in wonder in front of it, marveling at the apparent craftsmanship of such a piece and wondering further where she was, and what she was doing here. She tried the knob (not even knowing that it was a 'knob', never having seen such a device before) and tried to pull on it. The door gave slightly, a sliver widening into a crack of pale silver light as timeless and ancient as the world itself. She pulled harder on it, and with each tug it moved an inch or so, a mountain of dust piling up behind it and trumbling and billowing away with each disturbance.

She ended up having to squeeze through the gap because the door would only went so far before its hinges, ancient beyond recall, finally gave and the door itself had settled to the floor. It was an immense weight for one such as she to try to move by herself. Stepping into the hallf beyond, the wan light increased. She did not see it, at least in the standard sense. Regardless, she moved down the passage, following the light. She stepped over things that were strewn about the hall itself, but not once thought to inspect what they were.

*****

In the darkness of the once sealed and hidden room, in the confines of the one corner where another hidden passage snaked off into the distances under the city above, a pair of eyes opened, finally, and watched with vague interest as the ancient girl awoke and left the room.

They eyes burned a vague crimson.

After a while, the mystic eyes went out. The darkness within that room subsided to that of the norm; merely another nondescript place empty and devoid of anything except the rats and settling dust.

*****

A world in flames. Everything aflame with the screams of the dying and the haunted dead echoing from every corner of existence.

That was what the girl had expected to find upon awakening. Slyly, her mind insisted that that was exactly what should have been, but instead of the crimson glow on every horizon there was a blessedly peaceful cityscape instead.

She stood at the ancient empty doors of an equally ancient building made of strange stone, the windf playfully tugging at her waist-length silver hair. She had the carriage of youth, while at the same time the poise of nobility. In the pale light of the moon, her grey dress fit her body rather well, exceptionally tailored when it was made but ancient beyond recall now. Amythest eyes stared outward at the awe inspiring sight.

She stood staring for a very long time. Her eyes were wide with bewildered wonderment, her mouth a slack 'O' of amazement. All around her, amid abandoned streets paved with black stone, rose massive spires and towers of grey rock, seamless like the stairs and as tall as mountains. Not all of them were intact, but enough of them were to give a good impression of what this place may once have been. The streets were dead and empty, some overgrown, with ancient hulks of metal corroded to heaps of twisted steel. The girl paid them little mind, staring as a child stares at a skyscraper when he or she first sees one. It took a while, but the wonder faded, leaving a gaping hole where despair could begin to flood in like a returning sea.

She stepped out onto the shaped-stone steps and descended to the street, each footfall echoing in the lonely, deserted predawn city. Her eyes kept returning to the skyline even as she remained alert for threats in this strange world. Again, her mind returned to the promise of the beast.

She had tried to defeat it. It had won. She began to entertain the possibility that its curse was genuine, that she had slept centuries away while the world carried on. She stopped, and looked again the skyline. Gone on? It must have, but at some point it must have met a wall.

She began to walk again, musing.

*****

The sound began as the sky in the east began to brighten, turning the mirthless grey clouds into a veritable pallet of colour. The sound came from the direction of the rising sun, and was something that she had, of course, never heard before.

She watched behind a low wall comprised of some of the strange stone, most obviously bits that had fallen off of the sky-scraping building behind her, and there she waited in silence as the sun moved behind the horizon. All about her, nothing moved. It was as if the world held its breath in expectation of something either truely fascinating or awesomely horrid. In her experience it was often the latter. In a world with a kind, loving God she was sure it would be opposite.

It wasn't that she didn't believe in God. She did. She believed he was a cruel, malign bastard.

Her watching eyes saw nothing, but nevertheless she saw the pinpoints of light emerge at last at the far end of this....street? There were two, side by side from the look of it but still much to distant to discern anything else about them. Whatever it was, it was moving very fast. It weaved through the long since corroded hulks of steel and cloth and other substances since gone to dust. She watched warily, with growing astonishment, as the carriage - she was sure thats what it had to be, save the fact that it wasn't being pulled by horse or beast - came barreling down the long disused avenue.

She ducked down as it sped pass, an ancient and rusted machine of steel and....other things. She had no words to describe the see-through material that was constructed into the things side and front, as well as its back. She would have much enjoyed looking at it closer, but it was gone as fast as it had come, becoming nothing but a pair of receding red lights in the distance and then, finally, nothing. The sound faded.

She relaxed, sitting back, and then immediately tensed up. Something was being pressed into the back of her head, something cold and hard and dangerous feeling. She didn't turn around.

A hand frisked her silently. After it had finished, satisfied that she carried no weapons, she supposed, she was gripped by her shoulder and turned rudely around. A black thing, made of metal with a hole in it, was pointed at her face in a menacing way.

In front of her was a stooped woman, dressed in...well, rags really. They were a uniform grey, like her own, but unlike her own they were torn and obviously old. The woman who wore them was not young, either outwardly or in her poise. Steel-blue eyes stared back unflinching into her own unsettling amethyst, careful and calculating, studying her. At long last the woman decided that she was no immediate threat, and dropped the strange weapon to her well-portioned body. She grinned then.

"Do you speak english, by chance?" She asked in a voice much more civil and well-traveled than she would have expected from one such roughly handsome creature. She shook her head to clear her face of russet-red hair. It, like she, was dirty.

"I speak common, if thats what you mean..? The girl asked tentatively, unsure. English was a word that she had never heard before, either. So many things she had seen in the last hours, things unimagined back....back...

She let the train of thought slowly derail itself, settling back and watching the other woman warily.

"Common, english, whatever. Its all the same, sweetheart. Now, lets get off the road before that patrol car cames back around. We'd be in big trouble if they saw us." She said shortly, and then scrambled over the fallen massonry and back into the hidden depths of the building it had fallen from.

"Carr? ..." She whispered, in wonderment. A car? What a strange name. Perhaps that strange horseless buggy was a 'car'? She put the thought out of her mind, and did what she was told. What else was there to do? She certainly didn't know enough of this new and strange world to make decisions on her own.

Still, she had to be cautious. Her thoughts drifted to the dark dream of her slumber, and she shuddered.

Leery, she slowly crawled over the debris as well, and vanished into the welcome safety of its darkness.

*****

"So....lemme get 's straight. Ya aren't human? Wha' kind o' shit d'you think yer gonna pull on me!?" Exclaimed the russet haired woman. She laughed strangely, then continued. "I mean, I can understand vampires and werewolves and demons and dragons, no problem there. There was a time when there weren't such things, but they are here now. Here t' stay, if'n ya ask me. I've never heard of no magick people except in faerie tales, and that fra' m'childhood. Pull the other one, its got bells on." She said, laughing.

They were winding their way through the strange building. It was built out of 'concrete', she'd been told. Man-made stone, to go with their man-made mountains.

At first she'd been wary of the strange woman, buit her easy-going manner seemed to rub off on people, as it was doing to her. Here was a person you could trust, that was what the woman's body language and strange, somewhat hard to understand accent. The severity of her words had bled away once they were, as she had said, out of peril.

"I speak truely, so I do." The girl said, meekly.

"Eh? 'S that so? Well, I don't 'zactly care. So long as yer not one o' 'em bloodsuckers, I don't give a tin shit. Whats'ee name, lil'un?" She proclaimed, settling down a touch. She ducked through an ancient doorway and into another hall, a set of doubledoors at its far end.

"Seska." She said, simply.

"Seska, neh? Sounds foreign to me. Well then, yer one lucky lil lass, y'know it? If that patrol'd spotted you..." She shuddered. "Well, they'd probably just kill you. That'd be better than being taken to one of the barons, and that'd be a fact." She said, coldly. She pushed on the corroded steel bar at waist height, but it didn't give to mere pushing. She kicked it and the doors flung open and then fell off their hinges. "Shits' fallin apart anymore here up north, I tell ya." She said, spat upon the threshhold to avert the ancient evil of this city and its confounded skyscrapers.

"Where are we going?" Seska asked, uncertainty edged into her voice. It was a big place. She had walked and walked and walked and there seemed no end to it, just lines of mountain-sized buildings stretching on into the hazy distance.

"Eh, I figured it might be a very good idea to get out of this city, chop-chop. Call it a hunch, but I think someone is going to be rather upset very shortly.. You can call me Aeyliea, 'r just Aey since' thats easier." Said the redheaded christened Aeyliea, who began to push on ahead down another similar, yet narrower, street. Seska noticed that Aey had picked something up on the way through that building. She had a pack slung over one tattered shoulder, and a great big and above all else, sharp looking curved sword on her back. The gun was in its holster.

If Seska had actually known more of this world, she would definately have noticed the old sticks of dynamite sticking out of the top of the pack.

She found out anyway. Halfway down the street, heading into what Aeyliea called the 'suburbs', there was a very loud boom in the distance behind them.

Aeyliea said there would be much gnashing of teeth.

You could bet you life on it.

*****

They broke into a dead run. Seska just had enough time to look behind her before Aeyliea put on a burst of speed, and what she saw was astonishing.

A building, made of that strange concrete and steel, rippled as it fell, sending plumes of dust and rust in explosive rings as each story fell upon the next. It happened fast, in seconds, and then all there was was a ball of smoke, dust, and flame as a second set of booms roared over the ancient city. She didn't bother to watch after; she was too busy dodging detritus left in the street in times gone by.

The ran pretty for an hour, not pausing to get there breath, though Seska expressed a deep wish to do so many times. Aeyliea would only warn that the sooner they got away from that city and its' denizens the better. So they ran,slowing the pace rather than stopping, until the city degenerated into woodlands. Amid the tree's old structures, practically every one of them collapsed. Here and there a ghostly doorway would peer out of dense under growth beneath the choked woodlands' branches. Neither Aeyliea or herself would even dream of taking refuge in one of those rotten buildings.

"Theres' a place 'ere we can rest through the day 'n night. 'ts safe enough, least 's safe as you'll find here in the badlands." She puffed, but said nothing more, despite Seska's frequently gasped questions.

Hours more passed in silence. Behind them was silence, as was in front of them. The road had eventually rotted away itself, leaving a wide track in the land that was level and rocky, easily traversed at speed.

Short distances are relative things, thought the girl as she ran behind the warrioress, clutching at her dress and trying not to trip and fall. Last time I bothered to get away from a place fast I just rode a horse, thought Seska, wrily. Perhaps there were no more. Perhaps all there were strange carriages like that one she called a car.

They rose out of the valley that the city sat in, rising out of the depth and into the foothills of mountains still distant. When they reached its summit, before descending into the next valley and losing sight of it, both women stopped for a moment and looked back at the ancient city. It stood distant and grand. Its silent windows were eerie, foretelling of the great days and the great men whom had built them that had vanished hundreds of years prior. Aeyliea turned and continued jogging without any regret at all, but Seska stood transfixed by the sky, alien to her.

"To have missed such wonders..." She whispered, before turning reluctantly and cresting the ridge, descending into the ancient, overgrown carriageway and losing sight of that wonder.

*****

Later in the afternoon they reached the haven. Haven was a strong word for such a place of foreboding.

Seska leaned back against the inside curve of the corrigated steel pipe, lost in thoughts of her own. The woman Aeyliea had mostly disarmed herself and set about making a fire.

"This place used ta be a waterway, ya know. Perfect place t'sleep in peace up north; the ceiling caved in b'tween here and the manholes directly north and south o' us. Only way in..." She said, then pointed at the sealed manhole above. "Kinda stupid, being like goldfish in a bottle. T'would suck something fierce if they ever got in, but I figure thems that try to come in won't be quiet about it. Only one opening to shoot at, d'ya see?" She practically purred.

"Doesn't matter....I know aught of this land. Where are we?" Seska asked. Her vacant eyes drilled a penetrating and uncomfortable stare at the older women. Apparently older woman. Aeyliea shifted uncomfortably beneath that gaze.

"I don't think I know what they would 'ave called it in yer day, but they called it America before...well, before the bad times started. The world is different now, anyway. Least that was wha m'pa would always say. Said the world was twisted when the Barons came. Also said 's a wonder the Great Cities still stand, as violent as that had t'a been." She said matter-o-factly.

"The Barons?" She queried quietly.

"Aye, the Barons. Twisted beasts from out of time. Some say biblical times, but I dinnae think I can agree with that. The Barons control everything, and the dark god reigns over them and all else. Noone remembers when they came....three hundred, four hundred years ago? The ancient men tried to fight them. There's places where ye can't go 'cause the air is poisoned and the ground too. Didn't matter, anyway. The Barons destroyed the major world governments...or at least crippled most of them. Destroyed their military and all their tech-know-logikal gadgets, destroyed the things that man put in space... What was left o' human kind fled south. There they remain, forever beset by the Barons' dark beasts."

"They really did come and deliver hell unto the humans, didn't they?" Seska mused quietly.

"Well....they killed millions before they stopped their initial slaughter. Mostly now they stay in their delightful and dead cities." Aeyliea shrugged. "Sometimes they attack. In the last hundred years, since the time o' my pa's boyhood, there hasn't been an attack from them. Its as if they were waiting for something to happen."

"For me...." She said distantly, then shook her head slowly. "Why did you bring me with you?"

"Because ya didn't look like ye belonged there. And ya didn't immediately try t' rip m'throat out with yer dainty li'l teeth, neither. Counts fer a lot these days, that." She said, grinning.

"I really meant it when I said I was not human." Seska stated flatly. The grin left Aeylieas' face slowly. "Are their Sidhe that walk the world anymore?" She asked, quietly.

"Eh? Sidhe?" She replied. She mispronounced the name but Seska refrained from correcting. "I dunno." She shrugged. "Could be. I've never seen one before. Until now, anyway. Whats a sidhe?"

Seska closed her eyes and sighed. "What I am. But..." She opened her mouth a few times, and then just closed it, unable to answer that question. Sidhe were sidhe. "We are....were...might be older than humanity in its entirety but there were never an overwhelming many of us." And now its probably just one of us, she finished in her mind sadly.

"Eh, well. It doesn't matter much, now does it." She said, then sat down heavily beside the small fire. It burned smokeless and gave off decent heat and light, enough to illuminate their enclosed space. "We'll be able t'get something to eat tomorrow maybe. I've a car the next valley over. Have t'do some inventive things t'get the gas for it anymore, but it'll get us out of this damn place a lot faster.

Seska began to respond to that, but was cut short. The manhole cover was removed, and they both heard it land somewhere much too distant from the opening. Something snarled menacingly, and then dropped through the hole.

"Werewolf!" Aeyliea screamed, and was up with that strange lump of metal in her hand again. A gun, if she remembered right.

Something else leapt through the vent, but neither of them noticed it.

*****

The gun went off tree times without warning. The beast hadn't even had time to get its bearings before it was struck, twice in one shoulder an a third time in the arm. It belowed in pain, spitting curses at them that were unintelligable. And then it rushed straight across the flames and into Aeyliea's face.

Seska watched the beast knock the gun away from her carelessly. It tried to grab Aey by the arm but missed, succeeding only in digging chunks of bright, livid red flesh and blood out of her arm. Its claws dripped with her blood. Indeed, the scent of it seemed to drive the thing wild; it knocked the woman aside, licking its claws, and then dove for her again, saliva dripping off of enlarged canines.

Aeyliea raised her arm to fend off the incoming blows. Her reward for this was audible, clearly so in the enclosed space. The bone snapped like tinderwood, and she shrieked in real pain now. She screamed inarticulately, crying for help. Aeyliea looked at the beast, looked at the ground, then saw the glint of metal in Aey's gunna. She rushed over, stooping to grab the hilt of the hunting knife, and then lunged at the werewolf herself. She brought the blade down, intent upon leaving the knife in its neck.

The knife swung through empty air. It turned its attention to her just long enough to knock her back, flying a brief distance before coming down on the sandy floor. It shrieked in rage, then turned and reached down, grabbing Aeyliea by the scruff of her misbegotten cloths. She hung there, limp in its grasp. It tossed her, laughing cruelly. At least the sidhe thought so, as she closed her eyes with a grimace and consentrated. There was the odorless fire that the other woman had made; that would make a fine point of concentration.

The principle of this was simple. Even so it had eluded science for generations beyond counting.

There was a brilliant crimson flash. The report of the gun had been sharp and loud. This was softer and much longer, a fireburst that went on for five seconds or so. When it finished there was a louder crash. And then the chamber went dark.

All that was left was the fireflash in their eyes and a lingering smell of burnt hair in their noses. The wolf itself was ashes slowly settling to the floor.

Staggering, winded though she had done little, she wandered to the source of Aeyliea's pained groans. She knelt, and grabbed the womans' arm, examining it through sightless eyes. The eyes of magic looked down. Limitless as they were, more often real eyes would have served her far better. She let the limb fall, satisfied that it was just a a clean break, that it would heal quickly enough. She wiped her hands on her dirty dress, leaving smears of bright red. Fresh blood. She could smell it strongly, and suspected it would bring more company eventually. She tore strips of her dress and bound the wound as neatly as she could, on the fly, and then hauled on the womans' arm, trying to force her up.

She stirred uneasily, eyes opened to slits. "Nasty 'un....isn't they?" She queried weakly. She got onto her unsteady feet. The sidhe helped her to the ladder...much beyond that would be Aeyliea's own concern. She climbed, though it hurt her badly, and made it to the top. Seska followed shortly with Aey's weapons and gunna.

"What happened to it?" She asked once the sidhe had climbed from the deep dark down below. Seska made a gesture, suggesting that it didn't really matter. It was gone, and wasn't going to be coming back again either.

"I don't know much about them...but I'd venture a guess and say they don't hunt alone?" The sidhe hinted gently, nodding her head in the direction they had been traveling. Until now she had been meek, uncertain as to how to take this stranger. Now it seemed that fate had put them on the same path for a reason.

Aeyliea merely shrugged, wincing at the pain in her arm. "More than likely. But....I can't fight anymore, not for a while I think..." She said, trailing off. The colour had drained from her face, the sidhe noticed. Not good signs, given her current state as well. They would need to find some shelter, and fast. The night hadn't even really got started...it could only get worse.

She grimaced herself, rubbing her aching head, and then hooked an arm into Aeyliea's and began moving.

*****

It took six hours of exhausting effort, but they managed. They left the collapsed sewer and continued on, following the ancient road as it wound the the trees and cut through hills. They spoke very little, each concentrating on the next step...then the next, and so on.

Just past midnight, by the sidhe's reckoning, they passed through the decayed remains of another, smaller town. The woods had encroached here as well, tall trees standing in what must once have been streets and dooryards. As they stumbled through the nameless place, they both searched fervently from house to house, hoping to find some place that would provide shelter. Just before dawn, with the frenzied howls of their pursuit raised in frustration many miles behind them, they found one.

The building was half collapsed. To Seskas' mind it looked like an above ground dungeon, small rooms made of concrete, a wall of rusted iron bars sealing the long ago occupants into those small confines with little to no chance of escape. Once they might had represented the loss of freedom; now they represented a measure of desperate hope. The sidhe helped Aeyliea into one of the cells, its iron barred gate rusted through and collapsed to the floor, helping her into the stone-like bed. The matress had rotted long ago, leaving only dirt-like detritus to mark that it had ever been.

Then they both slept, despite the ever present threat of the werewolves and their kith and kin.

*****

When Aeyliea woke from her fevered dream, her first thoughts were that her strange companion had left her for dead in the night. It wasn't as though she could be blamed. Aey was surprised that one so young had even been this far into the Dark Lands as she had been.

Any thought that she had been abandonded was replaced by icy hands on her wounded arm. And then there was a curtain of pain to match little in the womans experience. It seemed to drive all intelligent thought from her mind, seemed to go on endlessly. Her mouth opened in a silent, cracked wail of pain.

It stopped. The strange silver-haired girl stood over her. A moment before she had not been there, and then she was. She blinked, trying to focus her thoughts but found her mind unable to obey. She merely stared, fever glazed eyes open but half empty, watching the girl work.

The sidhe left her charges side, and went to the surprisingly solid wooden desk in the antechamber to this place of cells. She had found some kind of pottery bowl and what had once probably been a glass of some kind. Using them, and her knowledge of the wilderness, she had gathered various herbs and had sat and ground them slowly into a paste. It smelled vile, like a rotten and bloated corpse on a warm summers' day. Of this she took another fingers' worth and walked back the the sickening woman, pulling back the cloth she had lain over the wound to keep the flies off.

Once again, there was searing pain, something truely not of this world....but eventually the pain melted away. In its place was a strange no-feeling, an oddness that was uncomfortable but much less so than the tear-jerking agony before it.

"What...is tha' shit?" She asked, her words slurred a little more than usual. There was a hint of anger in her tone, but the sidhe ignored it, and continued with her ritual. Aey winced as she re-bound the seeping wounds. Then she vanished to a different part of the building, and came back with pieces of carefully cut and shaped wood.

"That was a salve. It will remove the poison from your blood and lessen the pain, for a while. I had to do something. Those claw wounds were allready corrupting. If I hadn't, you'd have been dead in a day or two." She said, cooly. She knelt on the floor next to Aey, and put her icy hands around her wrist. The pain was distant this time. It was a good thing, because the girl chose that moment to set the bone. Her vision practically whited out from the appalling agony, but it passed swiftly. By the time she had reoriented her thoughts, the sidhe had allready put the splint on, tying it with more strips of cloth from her allready ragged dress.

Aeyliea said nothing, instead drifting slowly off to sleep.

After she had, Seska stood once more, stretching and arching her back and body. Muscles and joints popped and stretched, releasing her from the misery of a bad nights' sleep, if but temporarily. She left the cell, stopping only to look on the sleeping shape that was Aeyliea upon the rudimentary cot. At least the look of terminal agony was gone. If the paste she had pushed into the rather nasty gouges in her arm was to do anything, then by the time she got back she would be able to see. It was a waiting game now, but she herself had no intention of just sitting around and hoping for the best. Their pursuit had broken off at first light, but she didn't expect their luck to get any better.

She stepped out into the pale light of early morning. Thick golden light poured through the gaps in the canopy of the trees, brightening the previously eerie and dark world. By this light, she would search for something to use as a weapon.

As the hours continued to pass, her mind became more and more aware, the ill humors of such an incredibly long sleep reluctant to release her from their control.

*****

She sat indian-style and naked on the floor of the cell, a sturdy ash pole layed upon the ground in front of her. Next to that was a small pile of her long silver hair. It seemed the shimmer with an inner light. The quality of that light was both ephemeral and eternal, something to deny understanding regardless of how hard one tried.

She was busy with a delicate task indeed. One strand at a time, she was weaving a silvery net of her hair around the pole...a daunting task but for her young and agile fingers it was doable. She did not look up when she heard the rustling of cloth on cloth; her dress doing the work of a blanket where no blanket could be found.

Aeyliea sat up, and looked blearily at the work in progress. Without looking did the sidhe know what was on her face. A look of extreme puzzlement and uncertainty, most certainly.

"Good afternoon." She said, slowly and deliberately, not losing focus of the task at hand. Aeyliea mumbled something, but it was both noncommittal and in any case undecipherable.

Time passed. The web of silver grew, snaking down the pole of cleanly denuded wood. It wasn't until she was almost done that the woman in the bed finally had enough of her wits about her to ask the inevitable question.

"Wha'...what the hell're ya doing?" She asked. Her voice sounded weak still, but much stronger than in the morning. The fever light had gone out of her eyes, and in fact she looked almost healthy now.

"I'm making this stronger." The sidhe replied, annoyance in her voice. "Don't bother me. If I make a mistake I'll have to start over."

The woman remained blessedly quiet as she watched the pallid girl work.

When, at long last, she had finished the tight net, she turned, her empty violet gaze boring into Aeyliea like drills. She bore the stare for a second only.

"What d'ya mean stronger?" She asked, finally. The sidhe sighed - it was an incredibly adault sound coming from one so young (or at least apparently so). She set the staff carefully on the floor, and turned. She appeared not the least concerned that she was naked. That Aey saw clearly.

"Just that. Stronger. You still do not believe what I told you at the outset of our little quest, so here is some more proof." She replied, drily. She turned and started at the wooden pole with such an intensity that she thought the would would catch fire. Instead, each of the threads of her hair shone brightly with an inner light. In turn, each of them sank into the wood. It was as if the wood had opened to admit them and then closed silently and seamlessly. There was no sound, only an intense sensation of powerful forces at work in this small room.

Within the space of thirty seconds, the feeling vanished. Once again the pole looked like an ordinary piece of wood. There was the merest suggestion that it wasn't, but that was only inferred by the archaic glyphs that were apparently branded into the wood itself.

The sidhe shuddered, and then fell forward over her crossed legs, all the colour gone from her body. She looked like a ghost, except ghosts weren't covered with beads of sweat that glinted in the muted light of the jail cell.

Aeyliea waited a few minutes, then got up on unsteady feet, and touched the girl. She did not move, not at first. Eventually, she righted herself.

Looking into that face, Aeyliea saw the grim visage of death thwarted, and shuddered involuntarily.

"Go...try it for yourself an b-believe. Swing it at the wall with all your might and it will not b-break." The sidhe whispered, exhausted.

Aeyliea did just that. Even with her depleted strength, the swing she gave that wooden pole should have turned it into splinters.

There was only the solid, resounding thok of wood on stone. The only thing that broke was the ancient concrete, which under the impact sent a little shower of white dust to the floor.

*****

"How did you do that?!" The woman gaped at her. Just moments ago she had been half a step from keeling over from exhaustion, now this strange and new... Well, she didn't have a word for it.

"Its magick. I told you I was a sidhe, yet you ignored me. You probably still think I am nothing but a little girl, seperated from whatever remains of your civilization. I am not." Said the sidhe, pulling her dress back over her head and then pulling her hair out from under it. The grey cloth was smudged with odd green stains and the more commonplace bloodstains. She did all of these things with a slow, deliberate manner that showed more than anything else just how tiring her exercise had been. Aey would not understand just how draining it was; humans made for poor mages.

It tended to eat them from the inside out, and they also had a tendancy to ignore it until they coughed a bit of their lung up. Or went up in a mushy, wet explosion of flesh being put under strain far beyond its limits.

Aeyliea looked at the 'girl' with a hard, examining gaze. Except for the minor miracle that she had just enacted, everything about her seemed ordinary. Only the ears, which were slightly longer and ended in points, gave any indication to her ancestery. Only that and her strange, sightless amethyst eyes were unusual. She sighed dejectedly.

Seska straightened her garment out, rather effectless given its condition, then stood and turned to face Aeyliea on wobbly knees. She leaned heavily upon her newly wrought stave, grateful of its support.

"Those beasts last night....what were they?" The sidhe asked. She was aware that her companion was off kilter; now would be a prime time to gather information that might otherwise prove hard to gain. In the course of one night she had gone from a timid teenager to a much more cunning and knowledgable creature.

Aeyliea hadn't noticed yet, though. "Werewolves. They were human once..." She trailed off, unable to finish. The sidhe assumed that was because she knew nothing else of them. Everything else she needed to know she had seen first hand the night previous. Their speed. Their strength. They didn't appear to be very intelligent, but intelligence is not a prerequisite for a beast such as that that could solve any argument by force rather than wit.

Seska shifted her weight. "What else? What else lurks in this private corner of hell?" She asked, hard words for a hard question. Aeyliea just shrugged and said nothing.

After resting a bit longer, the sidhe went outside again. She was gone for about half an hour, give or take, but when she returned she came with a coney, skinned and gutted. Aeyliea had allready gotten the strange smokeless fire going again, created by a strange device with a steel canister on it. It looked old, but then everything else in this far-gone world did too.

"Why did they come for us?" She asked, as she set about preparing what would be her first meal in assumed years. It didn't take long for the smell of cooking meat filled the small space.

"Well....I kinda caused that, see. Small personal mission. The local baron had a garrison o' sorts there. I just made it vanish." She said, a smug look of satisfaction etching itself into her features.

Seska recalled the ball of smoke and flame and the thunder as they had left the ancient city, and grimaced. That did indeed explain their pursuit. It also promised them that such pursuit would not end in the foreseeable future.

"I used...oh, I dunno. Maybe sixty sticks of dynamite on the building they were in."

"Dynamite?" Queried the sidhe, unfamiliar with the word. Her mind connected dynamite with the loud explosion. It wasn't wrong, as the woman explained.

"But....wouldn't that have destroyed the entire building? Why are there any of those wolves left to chase us?"

"Probably 'cuz they had a vampire or something with them. The wolves don't have much but a rudimentary intelligence, but some of the beasts that live around the baron...." She trailed off, shuddered. "Most of them are deadly smart. And some of them can use power that we cannot understand." Power that they could not understand? The sidhes' mind filled in the blanks here. Some of the more powerful denizens of this twisted world could use magic too. The fact that Aeyliea did not know it for what it was merely confirmed the belief that humans still were unable to effectively harness such a power.

The fact that there were creatures in this world that could, however, was unsettling.

"And you....why are you here? I've know idea how I came to be here, so little I could say would be of any help. I just...have a hard time understanding why someone like you would come out here alone to stir as big a hive as that with a stick." Stirred it with a stick or sixty of dynamite, at that, her mind added. Aeyliea merely shrugged.

"Someone has to do something. All we've done is stare into the heart of darkness for a hunded years' time. The elders and lords of the last of the human domains think that the power of the Lord is vanishing, and think that eventually the poison they have spread will vanish."

But you don't think that, do you. She looked upon the lone warrioress with eyes of magick. No, she didn't think that whoever this Lord was would just up and vanish. Not with a mouthful of the world in his gob. Any such beast wouldn't stop at just a single course of such a fine dish, but would keep going until it had consumed everything.

Something in the back of her mind turned to ice, and pounded on her consious thoughts, desperate to be noticed, but even now she did not heed it.

"In fact...if they found out about what I did I could very well be in a very serious spot o' trouble, y'could say." Finished the red headed woman.

The sidhe split the cooked animal, dripping fat, and handed one half to her, before going to work on her own portion.

They ate in silence. All around them was a world filled with it.

*****

Things didn't go according to plan.

*****

The first cry shook both of them from the lethargic state of rest that they had been enjoying. The apparent safety of their refuge vanished.

The sidhe was up on her feet in a moment, her altered stave in hand. She looked warily out of the cell that had done service as shelter for the both of them over the evening and day. The cry had come from close by - much closer than she remembered those frenzied howls and yips from the night before.

A tactical error. She had assumed that the pursuit would either have given up by now, despite the obvious fact that the woman Aeyliea had done something incredibly bad to whomever owned these hunting 'dogs'; indeed, she had even assumed that they would not hunt by daylight.

Wrong.

The city in which they had resided all day long was much too overgrown to see very far through. Where houses and yard might once have been, trees and choked undergrowth now stood. Even from the relative safety of her vantage, she could see places where even in this late hour the sun could not have penetrated during the height of noon. Dark places. Places where lurking beasts could hide and snatch unsuspecting travelers to grisly fates.

Too overgrown to count, and the voices of these wolves were so intermingled that she would not dare to guess at their number. A great many of them in any case. At least a great many for the two of them alone to handle.

"How many?" She whispered, more to herself and for the benefit of her racing mind than to gain any kind of answer from the red-headed woman. Aeyliea shrugged, muttered something under her breath as she gingerly worked at gathering her weapons and belongings. They would have to quit this place immediately.

The sidhe advanced to the out-of-doors, her magic eye-in-the-sky giving her a three hundred sixty degree angle of sight. All about her the shadows gathered as the sun prepared to set once more, adding another day to her existence in this strange world that she knew so very little about. And probably will not learn much more about, either, she added in the privacy of her own head. Aey stuck her head out of the half hidden doorway, and then stepped cautiously outside. The gleam of the metal edge on her back was a comfort, much more so than the accursed weapon she called a gun. Wordlessly, they left.

Retracing steps they had followed the night before, they made their way back to the great road. It stood empty aside for the occasional tree, grown through cracks in the ancient and rotten pavement. Though they couldn't see any of the beasts that they knew even now were circling like vultures, they knew they were out there, and deadly close. Their voices gave away their general position, and it was that of a slowly constricting circle.

They went slowly up the road, ever vigilant of the swiftly approaching dangers. "You may as well toss your stick aside. It won't do much to stop these beasts." Aey whispered as they crept along. The sidhe did not reply, instead gripping the pole harder. She waited even as she moved.

It was, after all, inevitable. And she didn't have to wait long, either.

The first of the hideously mishappen beasts lurched through the trees a hundred yards ahead of them. It didn't even look remotely close to the one they had slain the night before. That one had had a wolven head but the body of a man, this one merely had the eyes of the wolf. Even from this distance they could see into those gleaming yellow beads. In them was death, and nothing else. There was no room in those eyes for consious thought, only for the glory of the slaughter.

It stopped dead in its tracks, not moving a muscle. It looked on, and then slowly raised its human head to the sky, and uttered a eerie wail. The wail was picked up by a multitude of others just like it. And then it turned to face them, and advanced cautiously.

"Not all stupid, are they?" Aey remarked, removing the gun from its place on her belt. It was an ancient thing, heavily built - a cannon that fit in the palm of your hand, Aey would have proudly said. Right now she said nothing, her face as grim as their mutual plight. She pulled the hammer back, and sighted on the beast.

For now she did not fire. Between range and lack of hostility, she saw no need to fire and waste an otherwise precious bullet. Instead they both just stared at the approaching beast.

It would have gone badly had one of the other hunters not made a sound, but that lonely sound in a world that had been dead silent since noon was a double edged sword. It alerted both of them to the presence of a second, slinking beast that had more of the wolf-man characteristics common to now ancient horror movies involving werewolves than the one standing in front of them.

But they bother turned to follow their ears, to see what the new threat was. In doing so they both took their eyes off of the first wolf (the immaterial method of the sidhes' eyesight not withstanding; she was bound by the same rules as the physical aspect of that which magic tried to replace). The first burst into a mind defying sprint, leaping over undergrowth like an antelope trying to flee a hunting predator. It almost made it to Aeyliea before she turned. Staring the devil in the eye, as it were, she fired her hand-cannon, arm jerking up and out fro mthe recoil. It didn't matter, at least to the one lone wolf, because now it was moving at incredible speed minus its head. Its last bound carried its bulk into her body, knocking her flat onto the ground. She scrabbled to get out from underneath the stinking beast, hands slipping on its fetid sweat and foul smelling blood. She slowly worked her way out from under it, eventually freeing herself from the headless carcass and smearing herself with blood from head to toe.

But one was not their only worry. The second one, the one that had inadvertently stepped on some branch in the woods, rushed forward too. So did half a dozen others from various places on the road, both near and far. This second one concerned itself with the sidhe, lunging low.

Aeyliea expected her companion to swing the staff like a club, as that was what she herself would do. Instead, she watched Seska jab one end of the thing into the beasts' belly, stopping it short of its mark. Before it had even had time to shift its moving bulk, trying to take a beclawed swipe at her face, the sidhe heaved upwards with all of her strength. The pole half-connected with the werewolfs' jaw with a solid thud. Even though it had been a half-assed strike, the beasts' mouth still exploded in a gout of blood, fragments of bone, a bits of teeth. It howled in agony. trying to backpedal away, trying to find a different avenue of approach that wouldn't get a face full of iron-hard wood as a reward. Before it had taken two steps she had struck it in the head again, gouging the flesh above on eye.

It was only then that she grabbed it with both and and brought the wooden staff down on the things head like a great axe. Bone snapped, blood flew, and the beast began to go down, even as she turned to stop the frenzied attacks of a third hunter, blocking a swipe at her head that would have fairly easily knocked it off.

There was another violent crash, and the beast that Seska had been desperately parrying blows from fell backwards, its right shoulder suddenly a mass of livid red flesh with a gaping hole in the middle. When the blood began to flow, it came in a great stream, spurting with each thump of the great beasts heart, but still it wouldn't go down. Instead it changed its target, leaping nimbly past the sidhe. With one swipe of its great taloned hands it knocked the coffin-maker from the human, and if it had landed its second blow it would have ripped her throat out.

Instead its head collapsed like a paper cup underneath a bootheel, and once again there was a great splatter of blood and bone. Both of them were now smeared with blood, none of it there own. At their feet were three dead or dying werewolves....but more were coming.

A lot more were coming.

They looked at each other, and grimaced. A dozen more were approaching, but instead of rushing in as the three losing contenders at their feet had, they walked at an easy gait.

No. There wasn't twelve. There were thirteen.

And then the wolves stopped, forming a loose ring about the two women, and that thirteenth creature approached.

Aeyliea went pallid, all the colour draining from her in mere seconds. Before either could do anything else, there was a blue of motion.

Aeyliea fell to the ground, unconsious.

And then there was just Seska and this strange, well dressed beast in front of her. It was not human, no more than she was.

The icy fingers of familiarity toyed with her spine as her sightless eyes stared into pitiless beads of pure black. The thing grinned at her, and on its breath she could smell the odor of soured blood.

"Our displeasure is your displeasure, m'lady." It said, a look of cold, mocking amusement upon its sharp and aqualine features. And then its hand was at her throat, a grip as strong as steel. The world began to grey out, but before she slipped into the abyss, she got to see what they did to her companion. The horror of it was completely lost to her, though, as her eyes slipped closed.
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...
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Seska Dragonslayer
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Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Sun May 27, 2007 11:24 pm

II. Honor Among Thieves?

I woke the same,
as any other day,
except a voice was in my head;
It said seize the day,
pull the trigger,
drop the blade,
and watch the rolling heads...

"The Day I Tried To Live."
-Soundgarden


Money.
Its a crime.
Sheriff,
fella,
don't take a slice of my pie.
Money
So they say.
Is it good or evil
to take?

"Money."
Pink Floyd




God was a bitch.

Just ask Nathan. He could explain in great detail.

*****

The day had begun like every other one, really. Nathan, a relatively unsuccessful 'businessman' in a certain kind of 'business', always began his day in, for lack of anything better to describe it, his den.

The fact that his business was thievery and villainy would lead a casual observer to note that his den was, in fact, a den of thieves. It wouldn't be a bad description. The only problem was that he had, as of yet, to successfully steal anything.

Nathan - Nate to his friends, which were few - was a relatively handsomely built man. If it wasn't for the scar running from the left edge of his pronounced jaw through the eyebrow of his right eye, he could definately have been considered attractive. At just over six feet tall, he was not a small man. While his muscles did not bulge, persay, they carried enough hidden grace and strength to, say, pry a lock off of a door. Long dark hair to just below the neck of his plain and unremarkable brown shirt. HE stood in front of a cracked mirror, admiring himself - another of his less than desirable traits. He stared into eyes the colour of polished emeralds, and grinned, pulling on a more business like, if casual, smoking jacket.

It wasn't his, of course. Who would pay so much for such fine clothing, anyway?

He turned from the mirror, straightening his attire as he went, and stepped from his apartment at the back of the run down building into The Den. There were a lot of people here. They had a disreputable look about them, each and every one of them.

Here he was, a man who looked like a perfectly ordinary businessman, in a room full of sweaty, unwashed, undeniably vile denizens of this fair city of Detroit. It wasn't unlikely that most of them would sell their own mothers for a spot of cash in a pinch.

Some of them had. Probably.

He cleared his throat. His piercing green eyes went from one unwashed, unshaven face to the next. They glittered with a rare gift of intelligence that made him what he was today.

Now, if this lot was less stupid than the last six or seven had been....

"Why, I am ever so pleased to see that everyone decided to come this morning." He said in a flat, even, comradely voice. There were a multitude of grunts and growls by way of acknowledging his arrival.

"Hey, boss...ya know, reputation an' all to look out for...but how'n the hell we supposed to pull off what you have in mind?" One of the cronies grumbled. One in the back of the crowd, short, slightly overweight with about six weeks worth of hair on his face. Probably best, Nate decided, since what exposed flesh the man had was a network of scars. He found that he had to stop his mind from trying to connect-the-dots on the mans' face.

Nate cocked his head to one side. Then he cleared his throat again, visibly knocking his mental gear down a notch or two.

"I'll get to that later. Just....just sit back and listen. Well. I don't need anymore schoolyard bullshit to cause me any problems." He spat, shortly. He turned and walked to a chalk board with salvaged odds and ends of chalk lying in the ledge at its base. There was something already drawn on the board, a complex of squares and lines. He highly doubted that any of them would understand what it was without being told.

He turned to face them, then cocked a thumb back towards the board. "Pretty simple, really. That theres' the local magistrates' compound. For those of you who don't know what that means..." He stopped, and glanced around at five or six of the less bright in the crowd, then continued. "When the Barons' tax collectors come around, thats where they take the gold and goods. Its where the local divisions' armory is located too. We get in, grab their cached weapons, get to the stores, then blow the fucking place sky high."

He loved the northern kingdoms. While the people living under the rule of the Barons were not naturally evil people, they did serve the purpose of the regime that had held the world bound for three centuries. The tactic he had found useful so far was thus: Rob the bastards up north, flee back into the allied lands of the south.

The southern realms wouldn't, in fact, prosecute him for crimes committed in the north. The state of warfare between the last of the human populace still free of the barons' and those of the barons' own frontier armies had been perpetual since the day the barons arose. While active hostility was not actually occuring right now, the princes of the southern realms would rather welcome him and his thieving cohorts as heros than criminals.

Win win situation. Would have been better if they - wait, no, scratch that, if he had ever successfully raided one of the border cities between empires.

Not his fault, of course. Call it bad luck, or bloody idiots for henchman.

"We can get in from the sewers. Not all of them have collapsed yet, and there are places down there the Barony does not even know of." He finished. He pointed at the access point drawn on the board, picked up a piece of chalk, and drew a line through the map. It was twisty and curvy, and he repeatedly had to remind them this was under the city.

The meeting with he and fifteen disgusting members of society (Most of whom made a living cutting peoples throat, Nate reminded himself many times) took a further two hours.

Things were repeated many times, but eventually he managed to get everyone on the same page.

When they left to deal with their daily duties of murder and robbery, Nathan sat back in his 'office', and reflected.

"God, just let me have one good crew for a change. Please." He whispered.

Nightfall would tell the tale. Hopefully, he thought, not again.

*****

"I'm unarmed! Don't kill me!" He cried out from his hiding place. It was an alley. Blind alley, at that, one way in, no way out. Especially with the local equivalent of a city watch standing at the only way out.

He stepped out from behind a crate, walking oddly. Something had been slung across his back, and the object that was his loot, to the watchmen at least, was out of sight. Both hand were clearly in sight though, and at that the watchmen lowered their raised weapons (A crossbow with one, a gun of extremely antique design in the others hands). He came cautiously. It did well to be cautious, in these parts.

That was a lesson that the two men who had them practically by the balls could have learned from. As soon as he got close enough, he grabbed the trailing end of his burden, and swung it hard at the man with the gun.

This was executed fast enough that the man barely had time to draw a bead on his head before he went down, a nasty head wound the prise for being unwary. And stupid, Nate thought as he swung his makeshift weapon, a cloth bag filled with bricks, at the arm holding the crossbow. He didn't care about the man that the arm belonged to. It was the sharp bit of metal on the end of the bolt that bothered him, and with a wooden snap (and the muffled grinding-shattering sound of a mans' wrist being broken in lots of places at the same time) his object of concern ceased to be a concern. The man dropped it, screaming.

Dirty way to kill a man, thought the thief as he bent over, took a knife out of the watchmans' belt and slit his throat.

There was a brief spattering of blood and gurgling, muffled screams, and then silence. By the time the fallen had passed his last earthly breath, Nate had put a good block between him and the scene of his latest crime. Now he had a gun, some ammo that was probably still good, and a decent knife. And was now, he thought cheerfully, completely devoid of any kind of pursuit.

Laughing lightly, he dodged down an alley that wasn't blind, but followed one of the broken and tumbled thoroughfares that left the ancient city like spokes on a bike. His pace wasn't killing, had no need to be. This was much too far south to worry about any of the twisted nightmares that the Barons and their Lord preferred as guardians. Here it was humans, the masses subjugated and ground down until their individual wills had been broken. Most were subdued, as any populace under the rigors of hostile occupation tended to be. This far out from the city center, the population was sparse. He thought he could see the glint of eyes in windows and doorways watching as he jogged past, but no one challenged him.

In all desolation that had once been great, there were probably few who would bother trying, preferring to stay out of harms way.

Gunshots, distant. Apparently the gun he had liberated hadn't been the only one on their entire force, which was surprising since weapons and equipment from the past era were becoming increasingly more rare. Probably one of the riff-raff he had hired getting filled full of holes. He could only hope.

Because, when it came right down to it, he had discovered what his problem with these heists always ended up being. He was clearly vastly more intelligent than the hoodlums he always ended up working with.

Maybe time to start working alone. At least then the fuck ups would be his own, rather than some half-baked clod in the mix for a fix. That thought made him chuckle, dryly.

He had some miles to put between him and this city though. Maybe he could head east into the wastes for a bit and lay low for a couple weeks. He could do with a vacation.

Three years and not a successful robbery. Yeah, he could use a break. He just had one more job to attend to, first.

*****

A man.

Standing in a dark corner of a dark cell in some nameless place, eyes like beads of fire glared from the nothingness of his face. Only two searing orbs in a void of darkness.

A silhouette of a man.

Staring.

Staring.

And then features appear, few but there. A chin, neat and normal, unremarkable in any way.

A mouth, the tip of a nose. Plain.

A grin, twin sets of vastly elongated canines amid perfectly ordinary teeth.

And through it all the eyes never stopped staring.

"Ah."

One word, one syllable, horrific intonation of doom, filled with a controlled, unimaginable power and command.

Those twin burning orbs actually twinkled for a moment. Then they faded, taking the mouth with them. As they faded, she felt - actually felt - the immense perversion of magic in every fiber of her being. As he faded her eyes, discorporated and without substance, dimmed slowly, and then winked out.

For the first time in many, many years, Seska felt her connection with the world in which she lived sever and fall away. The shock of it with a dizzying, overwhelming terror settled in. Her conscious mind, already weakened, slipped again, and with it she went.

Back to the abyss.

*****

She tried the straps again, and found them just as unbreakable as before. The situation was bad.

But still managed, by some grim inner resolve, to hold the vile beast of panic and terror away.

She had awoken, head throbbing, to a stone cell in an ancient looking cell. The dank smell of old soured earth filled the room. There were other odors here, too. They made Aeyliea's stomach dance and twist, and only by another thin thread was she able to keep her gorge down.

This place smelled of death. There was no other word for the unearthly stench. People were taken here to be killed.

Or, she shuddered in her bindings, worse.

She was strapped to the rear wall on a wooden table that had been been attached to the wall. Bound by the neck, hands, arms, feet and legs. It had hurt at first, but then her limbs had went numb.

But whoever had done this to her had wanted her to live, because it was done in such a way as to not harm her. Uncomfortable, yes, but not immediately harmful in of itself. They wanted her alive.

Thin fingers of panic began to trace their icy way down her spine.

Wanted her alive for what? After what she'd done, why would they keep her alive?

Rusted hinges creaked as the door to the cells swung back into the cell itself.

A man, eyes burning with a dim fire of their own, entered through the door, alone. He walked across the small space and stared at her. His gaze brought revulsion of the basest kind, for here she looked upon evil incarnate. Her waking mind didn't realize what the primal side, the side that had survived through dark swamps in the dawn of history, did.

He grinned, revealing fangs. Everything else about him was normal enough.

Six footish. White hair, hung to the knees, bound at the base of his unremarkable neck. Dressed in strange clothing, but very professional looking at that. A suit of some kind.

The burning fire in the mans unremarkable hazel eyes....

Suddenly, she knew.

"I've hopes for you, my dear. Such a rare creature..." Said the man in the black business suit rumbled, a pleasant sounding tenor. He crossed his hands at his waist, rocked on his feet twice. "Such high hopes. This sacrifice shall be sufficient for such a creature as you, my dear."

He turned as quietly as he had come.in, and stepped just outside the doorway.

When he came back, a werewolf - the eyes, they gave it away every time, dead vacant eyes - was with him. It stayed behind him as he took one slow step after another, his burning gaze boring into her own eyes. She found she could not turn away.

And then she stared straight into the heart of the abyss, and something broke.

*****

The screaming had stopped, finally. It had gone on for such a long time. The sidhe herself was begining to go mad for the ancestral fear that the screams brought to life in her. They were screams of absolute terror, at first anyway.

Later they became cries of pain, and eventually, death.

And here she sat, her clothing replaced by a cheap cotton shift. And no shoes. In a place that now stank of death and blood and ichor. Blind, helpless - despair had begun to settle in, circling slowly over Seska like a vulture.

But there had to be some kind of hope. She lived yet, and everything she'd heard of this world, this world that had changed so terribly in the centuries of her imprisonment and that should have killed her by now. Some thread of hope lay in front of her, if but she could see it.

Perhaps helpless was a poor word for it, in any case. She'd retrieved her staff, more of the strange art that she practiced at work. Whomever had caged her would wonder where it went eventually.

Would have.

The smell of death bespoke of no life beyond her own here. The rending crashes, the cries for mercy that went unheeded...these could not be mistaken, not by her acute ears. She had spent much time thinking on the events of this timeless period of darkness.

Something had gotten loose. From the sounds of it it must have been something bad. Especially for the first victim. Though the sidhe had pushed the thought aside many times, she had to face it.

It was a womans voice, that first scream. A familiar one, in this unfamiliar place.

The sidhe shuddered. It must have been a horrible death.

Much more than the ones that followed.

*****

Time, ever fluid in any case, passed. It could have been minutes, could have been hours. In the darkness the concept of time had no true meaning. In darkness there was nothing.

But her ears saw, in their own way. What they saw was a crypt. Before there had been sounds, people working, things happening. It may have been far above her cell, but it had happened. Her ears were very sharp, honed during that timeless darkness from which she had borne herself by mysticism, the arcane.

This place was dead now. There was no sense in staying in the den of the dead. The dead were often vengeful of the living.

Her staff in hand, she stood, feeling her way along the wall, using fingers and palms to slowly search the wall, around a corner, and to a door. She felt around until her hand came upon cold metal. It was the plate upon which the door knob on the other side was affixed.

Through her hand she could feel the faint current of some underlying power. This door was not just locked; it was sealed. By magic, the easiest word to describe the forces of the art.

And it was quite potent. Someone of great power and knowledge had placed it on this door. They had wanted to make quite certain she stayed.

She pressed her hand against the steel, pushed with all her will - not by strength of flesh, but her mind instead. Such strength! She felt it buckle slightly as she pushed herself further. This was not like the magic she had used to strengthen her staff, nor like the fire she had conjured. There comes a point where words fail to describe the difference.

She tried to pry her arcane fingers into the cracks in the seal placed upon the door. Blood welled, then snaked a trail from her nose, down passed her lips where it beaded on her chin, a single ruby drop glinting as if it were truely such a precious gem. She wiped it away distractedly.

The seal, whatever it had been, finally collapsed. The sidhe staggered as it fell, almost fell herself.

Hinges squealed loud in the silence of the dungeon. She felt a light puff of fresh air, a draft from open spaces beyond that carried the sickening, copper scent of blood. Odor or no, it was a way out.

She regained her composure, stepped barefoot into the corridor beyond. The floor was cold, hard stone etched where individual blocks met. Slowly, she worked her way along the wall, headed where the flow of fresh(er) air came from. All around was silence save for the scrabble of her fingers on stonework and the rhythmic tap-tapping of her staff on the floor.

She reached a hole in the wall. The echoing sound of her staff gave an impression of a small space beyond....except that where the door should have been there was now ragged stone. She took a step further and felt the broken and crushed shards of masonry. And splinters of wood that must have been the door at one point.

She worked her way over the debris, using her staff to feel her way forward. At one point she stepped in something wet and sticky. She couldn't see it but her imagination, ever colorful, filled in the blanks. Her stomache revolted slightly as her foot bumped something squishy that felt very much like flesh. Cold, and covered in that same slick, stick mess. Here it was a congealed slime. She stumbled, almost fell, and scrabbled madly, blindly across the rest of the fallen door and its frame. Half falling, half running, she found a stairwell, tripped on the first step and fell hard, knocking the wind out of her.

She tried to catch her breath, gasping as she tried to bring her fear under control. What she had known before was only hardened to certainty now. Now she only wondered what had really happened. Regaining her composure once more, she began her slow, relentless ascent up the stairs.

When she reached the top, she stopped. A lot more fresh air here....a feeling of openness.

Here is a piece of My art for your pleasure, sidhe...

It was a bodiless voice, coming from everywhere and nowhere at once.

And the veil that had been placed over her mystic sight was ripped away suddenly.

It was her turn to scream.

*****

The carnage was beyond her mind to immediately encompass, but bit by bit, the smear of blood became twisted, broken limbs severed at elbows, broken and pulled away like meat.

Chewed. Clawed. Torn and shredded, all awash in blood and gore. She reeled at it, the coppery, fecal, dirty stench of it, even so fresh as it was.

She looked on a hundred twisted, dismembered corpses bathed in their own blood, the walls of this courtyard at the door to the stairs splattered with it. It was everywhere, world encompassing.

Beyond rationalization.

She was sick, then. She hadn't ate much in the recent past, so her retching was mostly dry. It took a few moments for her to get control. Once she had, rising from her knees and trembling, she saw him again.

Silver-white hair and burning eyes, colorless in of themselves. He wore an elaborate jacket, white collared shirt underneath. An aristocrat by appearance...but his presence was revolting beyond a way of explanation.

His fanged grin greeted her, full of warmth yet shadowed by the icy demeanor of his eyes.

"I've been expecting you a rather lot longer than I like." He said, a commanding voice that was both pleasant and vile. How such a man as this could feel so....wrong, utterly rotten while still being so very ordinary in every other respect was beyond the sidhe's comprehension. She didn't need to comprehend why he was. She comprehended fully what he was.

A beast with no name, for evil has no singular name. But this man, this thing, it could encompass the meaning of evil and give it flesh and form.

It grinned wider.

"Look upon the world that I have created, and look upon it well. I am fated already to fall, for I can see it and the cause. And what am I to expect? Raising a fist to God himself, defying him. Eventually the bastard will come and settle his dispute with Me. I just purpose to make this as difficult and horrible as it is within My realm of power to do."

The look of surprise on Seska's face had melted away to a mixture of anger and fear. She set her jaw in a grim expression, looking upon at the nightmare cloaked in a shroud of traveling shadow about him.

"Why me?" She asked, simply and meek. Why bother trying to sound imperious to something immensely stronger than she. She had no great desire to die, not just yet.

"Because I can? My reasons are, of course, My own. If you manage to survive My trials, time will give you such information-" He said, then added with a tone of distaste, "-as you will need."

The man (the beast) spat on the ground.

"I had some spare time. Between terrorizing humans, I mean. I've made a new toy, and I think that I should like you to play with it."

He stepped aside. Behind him was something.

No, not something, someone.

Aeyliea stretched and groaned, as though from sleep. Muscles stretched, joints popped. Seska knew that it was, or had been, Aeyliea. The same auburn colored hair, only now her eyes were solid red, dark pupils at the centers. It looked as if every blood vessel in her eye had popped simultaneously. It was the red of blood.

She grinned, revealing her matching sets of elongated and blood-stained canines, gore covered arms end now in talons coated and dark with dried blood. Her feet ended in the same now, and every inch of leg and arm and body rippled with a new, terrifying power. Her clothing had been shred from her body; in an obscene sense of irony, he had saw to wrapping and tying some cloth around her breasts. A tattered skirt had replaced pants, but it was short and almost totally beyond repair.

Not that the woman probably cared about appearances now, the sidhe remarked dryly in the privacy of her own head. The creature whom had been Aey growled, a guttural and feral sound from deep in her chest. Clenched and unclenched her beclawed hands, and stared coldly into her eyes. A vague image, as of a reflection of hell, remained in her eyes, haunting and terror inviting by itself.

Would that god have mercy on her soul... She thought, as she gripped her staff tighter.

"I've things to attend to. I'll let you two get....acquainted...with each other." Said the man, having displayed his threat and achieved whatever goal his visit had required. And then he was gone, no smoke nor flash, simply there one moment, gone the next.

Her new master gone, the woman-beast stretched lithely, then made a slow, seductive advance.

Like a twisted succubus with extra claws.

In that frantic moment before the inevitable strike, the sidhes' mind raced.

*****

The decision was inevitable. As inevitable as it was, even as much as she realized it was coming, there was nothing to soften the physical blow.

Aeyliea leaped a few feet away and Seska, having really no place to go (except a door on the other side, her mind frantically called attention to), braced herself and raised her staff in both hands, speaking nonsense words that were nevertheless filled with power. Talons sharp enough to rend steel glanced off thin air mere inches from her face, snapped back by an unseen but immense force.

The claws never touched her, in fact the beast (woman?) bounced off the faintly shimmering air in front of the sidhe. It made little difference, she took the full force of it in a different way. Every ounce of force that her 'shield' had absorbed slammed into her body, transferred to a different kind of energy all together.

She cried out, one hand clutching to her chest as she darted to the left in the half second of perplexed anger betrayed on Aeylieas' face. She almost tripped over a severed arm, pinkish white bone shattered and apparently gnawed at one end. Aeyliea dashed to intercept her. She ducked under one slow swing, turned and jabbed at the killers' belly with a sure, practiced stroke.

Aeylieas' belly curved inward, and her hands moved with such terrifying speed, gripping the staff and yanking once, hard, towards herself. The sidhes' shock had robbed her senses from her for a split second, but that was all it took. She was pulled in closer to the beasts' taloned hands. Aeyliea swung, and she ducked, but too slow.

Blood splattered, Aeyliea crowed and muttered in delight. "Die!" She cried out in a crazed, raving zealots' voice.

Seska wiped blood off her chin which ran from shallow grooves carved into her right cheek just below her eye. The first word she had heard since they had fallen to the wolves, and she knew that she could very well do so this day.

Aeyliea swung again, but the sidhe rolled away, pulling as hard as she could on her weapon, trying to free it and flee. But the beast-womans grip was vastly stronger, and all she really achieved by this was swinging herself wide out into the open space of the courtyard. She tried to tug again, and realized the gesture was pointless; by physical strength she was far, far outmatched.

She snapped her head left slightly, splattering more of her faintly iridescent blood onto the brickwork ground. Aeyliea recoiled from a strike at her face, a patch of angry red flesh appearing on her unmarred face. As with herself, the momentary shock was just enough for her to pull her staff away and run like all hell. She was drained, and dared not do that again. It felt as though something inside of her was broken and aching, her limbs and body weary and spent. Much more would kill her, she knew.

Aeyliea shrieked in surprised rage and then loped after her quarry in a fit of rage. She reached to grab, but Seska dodged agily aside, racing as fast as her legs could carry her across the courtyard and through the open door at the far side, jumping over the corpses that littered the ground as she went.

She didn't turn around. Absolutely no reason to be concerned with whats behind you; much better to be concerned with whats in front. And in this case it was a narrow passage that led into the depths of the fortress. Panic rose, but she fought it off as she sucked air in like a bellows. There had to be another way out.

Her pursuit grew distant despite obvious superiority in every respect. She wended her way through a veritable labyrinth, passages, corridors, tunnels, halls and bolt holes that blended into one stone colored blur. She followed her 'eyes'. Eventually she came to a place overlooking the ancient city below. Its streets thronged with people, ordinary human beings. But the ground was a long way off.

She looked down the hall, listened to the sound of her pursuit approaching (Unerringly, at that, despite being out of sight for quite some time). She looked down at the ground, looked back down the corridor and made a quick decision.

Between two evils, and the unknown evil in this case was a lot better than the known one. Visions of eviscerated bodies with limbs torn and thrown, chewed on, clawed and broken came to mind when she though of what Aey would do when she caught up.

She carefully got up onto the window ledge, said a quick prayer to God, if by chance He was listening to this particular station today, and stepped off the window into open air.

She fell many feet. Before she hit the ground she muttered more of that nonsensical language of hers, and her descent slowed abruptly. Fresh blood practically launched itself from her nose, and when she landed she sprawled, no bone broken but shivering with pain.

She regathered her shaken wits, got control of her hurting body and grabbed her staff, then fled into the streets.

*****

She ran out of an alley and into a crowded, lively street. Lively as it was, it was not overly loud. The people here were sullen. They spoke only as they needed to, and elsewise were quiet. They were, in the brief instant that she gave any attention to them, a beaten people.

She pushed into the general press, getting lost in the crush of people that moved from one vendor to the next gathering food and wares. She tried to blend in with the crowd, but even had she been radically different, even now as she looked about in fear for the predator the he had set upon her, no one gave her a second glance.

She realized, grimly, that these people would rather not be involved. They gave her space, in the same manner that people give a man whom is calling defiance to God to strike him down. She moved with surprising ease through islands of people huddled in hushed, infrequent conversation.

And then the screaming began, somewhere behind her, and with it began the chaos usually reserved for war. People bolted like startled deer, diving into alleys and through open doors, rushing and stampeding to be away from the cause of those pained screams. Despite their attempt to get out of the way, the screams continued.

Aeyliea bounded over the heads of a fleeing mass of men and women and children, snarling viscously. She started toward the sidhe. A man got in her way, and she ripped at his guts, razor sharp talons cutting through his woolen garment and through the flesh of his belly like a hot knife through butter. He screamed in mortal agony as coils of his innards fell through his clutching hands, hitting the filthy street with a wet slapping sound. She leaped over him, too, as he fell and screamed and writhed, intent only on her mark, her prey.

Color drained from her face, she turned from the red-painted predator and joined the fleeing press, pushing through with all her might. She knocked a man down with her staff, weaved her way through the opening it had made and broke through and free of that group. Ahead, their swords whetted bright and shields polished until they gleamed, the city gaurd came at a full run, weapons naked in the warm sun. She darted through them, and they didn't even give her a cursory look. The first to reach Aeyliea were cut down, more bright blood spilled upon dry stone streets. A head lolled backwards, attached by a thin rope of tendon only, the body buckling and falling forward like a doll.

The third man to reach her stabbed low, which she avoided with her insane celerity. She grabbed him by his unprotected throat, blood welling up around claws buried in his flesh. He stabbed again frantically, choking, and scored a hit. She hissed as the blade slid into ther flesh over her pelvis, scoring the bone and sending a white hot pain along every nerve ending of her body. Enraged, she squeezed his throat with every ounce of her strength.

There was a meaty, wet popping sound as his neck disintegrated in her hand, spilling a fresh flood of vitae down her arm and face and chest and spattering to the street. His head fell away, completely severed and trailing ragged strips of meat. Glazed eyes stared at nothing as she snarled, clutching at the bleeding wound in her body....and then drove straight into the frenzied mass of half a dozen more gaurds.

Aeyliea thus occupied, the sidhe had reached the edge of the populated part of this city, had stolen a horse (There were a couple cars, but the principle of how they operated was not within her realm of knowledge), and was now moving at great speed herself.

Away from the city, its death-haunted citadel and the blood soaked bitch that had been a friend, if ever so briefly. Her fate was unknown, but all the sidhe cared about was putting a lot of distance between herself and whatever her traveling companion had become.

She rode that animal until she and it practically dropped dead of exhaustion a day and a half later.

*****

Days passed. The wooded lands that she had been taken from had been replaced by desert. Sandy soil that supported sage and tumbleweed, among other dry growing plants stretched to the horizon. The horizon itself was made or old weathered ridges and valleys, and places where for miles the desert remained unchanging. The sky was clear, the sun hot. In this parched and unforgiving land where food and water were scarce, she managed to keep herself alive for many days, deliberately avoiding any other travelers or villages, cities, or gathering places.

She passed deeper into the south. The days continued to pass as desert ran into tall, intimidating mountains. That crossing, from desert to mountain forest passed without incident. The woods, dark and ancient, closed in on all sides by the time she had crossed them.

Four days into the valleys on the souther side of that broken mountain range, she made her first encounter with someone since she had fled the city and its terrified occupants.

*****

The horse, much thinner, trotted along at a lazy pace with its thankfully light burden on its back. It was saddled, and during the long, seemingly endless ride across the desert, she had become acquainted with everything she had stolen. The horse had, to the amusement of a world that had long since moved on, come fully equipped.

It was in a valley, green and verdant. She had dismounted to let the horse feed while she foraged for what she could find. Nuts and berries for the most part, though she had lured game out before and still carried dried meat. It was a supply that would be exhausted soon, and therefore she ecked it out meagerly.

When she remounted and crossed the stream at the edge of the meadow, and rode underneath the ancient oaks.

Someone cleared their throat, and she looked around wildly for the source.

"Up here, my fair maiden." Said a mans voice, calm and self-assured.

She looked up to see a man, plainly dressed and at least decent looking with his legs hooked over a tree limb grinning at her. He had a gun. It was pointed at her.

"I think this is where I'm supposed to say 'your money or your life' and you hand me that little coinpurse there-" He indicated with the gun at the purse that hung from the horn of the saddle, "-to me without any fuss." He smiled an award winning smile.

It wasn't as if he was going to even shoot her, he thought to himself later. When he came back around (because a wooden staff to the side of the head, very hard to the side of the head, tends to put one to sleep.)
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...
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Seska Dragonslayer
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Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:23 pm

III. Signs And Portents.

And this is where it began;
Shot through a shattered lens.
And there is virtue in loneliness.
In vacant lots and florescent malls,
In one room coffins and crowded halls.
There is nothing to be done;
We have lost all control.
I walk in the shadows of your tortured realm.

"Heart in the Hand of the Matter"
-And You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead.


"Some say a comet will fall from the sky;
followed by meteor showers and tidal waves;
Followed by fault lines that cannot sit still;
Followed by billions of dumb-founded dipshits."

Ænema
-Tool


The room is dark. Torches in recesses in the walls gave a thin, weak light that made the shadows of this icy crypt dance in madness. Outside a blizzard howled, its ice-filled winds clawing without effect at the walls of the tower, a lone and solitary structure.

In all the wastes there was just this one, so far north that few knew of it. For reasons more dire than the enviroment could explain.

Inside it was cold, like a tomb. Inside, in the central chamber of the ground floor with its spiraling staircase winding up fifty feet to the next floor, was a table.

Six shapes sat around it on six thrones. The thrones were made of a combination of polished wood, bone, and stone. They were of such magnificent make, could well have been worth a fortune by themselves. The table, ancient oak polished to a glassy finish, had been covered with various bits of paperwork. Despite the flawless association between the lesser lord and him, it had been deemed a good idea to keep records.

The Lord had been insistent of it, in fact.

And now they sat, staring at each other silently from their private corners.

Baron Greed, keeper of the southern fief to the right of....well, of the Lord. Then Baron Wroth, keeper of the northern domain to his left, the Barons Pride, Envy, and Lust whom were all holders of various bits of the places between. The six throne, on a raised Dais above the others, held the Lord who presided over them all.

All of their true names had either been forgotten or were known only to themselves.

Someone cleared their throats. All eye turned towards the dark man on the ebon throne, who grinned cheerfully at the rest.

His eyes burned faintly in the darkness.

"Such a job you all have done. But we all know what is to happen. At least," He said, casually, "At least we know to the extent that can be known."

The others remained silent as churchmice. He looked at each in turn, and laughed silently in his mind. Sheep! Sheep for the slaughter, all of them. But useful sheep, for the time. For the time.

Greed laughed coldly. "There hasn't been anything of interest in a century, and You know that my Lord." He grumbled, clearly put off by this. Greed was bathed in a pool of his own shadow, his incarnate shape hidden from sight. All of them were, save for the Lord, whom wore his business suit.

"That will change. We know enough to make our own guesses. The only crucial thing is that we move first." The Lord spoke, dryly. "Many are coming awake that fell into the Black Sleep. I've seen to most of them. It should prove amusing, watching." He finished. Then he grinned.

There was a calculated silence in the room for a period of time.

"We shall be ready for any eventuality in any case." Pride muttered, breaking the silence. He shifted in his seat. Light revealed fingers devoid of flesh, mere bone held by magics. "They have been making ready, to be sure. But humans are easy to lull into a sense of security that they do not, in fact, possess."

The Lord chuckled dryly, but said nothing.

"If the sleepers are awakening now, then the end must be coming. Things are not set in stone. We must remember that. None shall pass me on the way to you, my Lord, unless they can slay me." Wroth intoned. His voice was reptilian but level and deep.

"The sleepers are not a concern to Me. They are pests, at best. There is another whom concerns Me much more, but he hasn't shown his hand yet. Even after three centuries of blasphemy of the highest order!" Roared the Lord. His eyes turned into virtual furnaces when he said this. "Ignoring Me. He won't be ignoring Me much longer...unless he has lost interest in this chunk of rock entirely."

"That would be....exquisite." Lust purred in her dark corner. Another ordinary, pleasant voice, female in tone. She was hidden deeply within the recess of her throne.

"All things in their own time." The Lord whispered simply. He stood, and looked over His subjects. "Leave. Attend to what needs tending to. You know what to do." He started to turn away, then stopped. "And please. The special cases...don't let your human pets kill them. You'll know of those I speak soon enough, if not already." He added, then walked to the stairwell.

One by one, the seats emptied. Had they ever really had anyone in them at all?

*****

The fire had burned low. Nate watched the embers dying out one by one, and went back over his afternoon.

It had involved being bound hand and foot, with the mysterious (and pretty!) girl that he had, admittedly, tried to hold up. His head still throbbed where she had hit him. Through the rest of the afternoon she continued on with his limp body slung over the back of the horse...and when they had stopped, finally, she had sat down and stared long and hard at him. It was an unsettling feeling.

It was her eyes. They seemed at one in the same to be both empty and full of terrifying intelligence. They did not track him when he moved; if he knew better, he'd say she was blind.

But that couldn't be, so his mind had rejected it. She was just weird. After half an hour of watching, she had gone about erecting a lean-to out of fallen branches and the saddle blanket, set and lit a fire, and then disappeared into the woods for an hour. When she came back, she had her shift bunched up in front of her. It was fully of wild raspberries.

Nice legs! He thought distractedly. He was trying to size up his captor. For an escape attempt.

Funny, he didn't feel like fleeing. Or sizing anything up other than her breasts.

She had ate, then retired.

And had been asleep for several hours now. There was only the sound of soft breathing from the lean-to, that and the faint night sounds of a woodland now controlled by the nocturnal. He tried his bindings again. Again, they were expertly knotted, beyond his skill to untie without the aid of a second person.

After a while, he rolled slowly towards the fire. Might hurt like hell, but it'd burn the rope she'd used in half. He put his back to the coals, bracing for what could hurt, and then stopped.

The girl sat on a log in front of him. Despite just waking up (or apparently just waking up), her eyes glinted with a sharp intelligence. Just the same, they seemed empty and disused.

"Won't work." The sidhe said matter-o-factly. "Burn your arm off before that rope catches. Best thing to've done would have been to find a sharp rock and pray."

He blinked. "And what would a girl like you know about it?" He said in what he hoped was a snotty, condescending tone. She merely grinned, a radiant thing even in the night.

"So speaks the jester in the tree." She said, than laughed. It wasn't a cruel laugh, merely one full of amusement. "Its nice to see common thuggery hasn't changed in a thousand years."

Again, he blinked. He shifted mental gears. He had assumed, since she had spoken not a word since she'd hit him, that she was just another ordinary maiden that got lucky. Nate always found women to be stupid.

This one wasn't.

"So, um, just what is a young girl like yourself doing in these parts anyway? Shouldn't've been here to be robbed in the first place." He grumbled.

She ignored him. "Who are you? Aside from a knave?" The tone was icy.

Gee, maybe it wasn't such a great idea after all, eh, Nate? He thought bitterly to himself. He took a deep breath. "Well, you can call me Nate. Care to untie me? I don't bite and this hurts like hell."

"Well. Anything else hidden on you? I found three throwing knives, a...a gun, I think its called, a dagger, and a crossbow hidden on your person and in the general vicinity. Don't bite?" She said cheerful, then sneered at the last.

"Travel up north of the southern barony any lighter than that and you might end up in someones cook pot. Or somethings. Don't you know that? I thought everyone knew that." He said, feigning shock that she didn't know. The look on her face said she didn't buy into his trickery. Though in truth he really didn't want to have anything more to do with her than he already had. Well.....

No. Too much drama in that. Besides, it helped to not start a relationship on the bad side of the tracks at the very outset. It would be extremely hard to get into this ones' pants after trying to hold her up.

No, He just wanted to get the hell away. It was a feeling. Like this was a walking, talking lightning rod.

"Actually, I don't know. I don't know much about anything anymore. See, I've only been wandering around for a month in a place I don't know anymore. Everyone I've met has eventually tried to kill me or run away from me. You could say I'm not having a very good time of things. And then there's you." She said, voice flat. She fed a few twigs into the dim coals, watched the flames build up again to shed some more light.

He rolled away from the fire a bit more, silent.

"Well. At least I can set some things straight now. What happened here?" She asked, level toned.

He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it and re-evaluated his choice of words more carefully. "Um. Well, you hit me in the head and-"

"Thats not what I'm talking about!" She snapped. "I mean what happened to the world?"

"Come again?"

"The world. The world, you stupid little thief, the world." She spat at him. Her face was flushed with frustration. Short tempered. He checked that off on a mental clipboard.

"No, really, what? Nothings happened to the world. Not for a long time." He grumbled. In his head he laughed. He knew damn well what she wanted to know, was in fact slightly surprised that she herself didn't know already. Something about that struck him as odd. How could you live in a world as fucked up as this and not know it for what it was? That got filed away too.

He hadn't seen her move. She moved silently and swiftly. It must have been when he blinked. Or the fire burned low. Or something.

It was really distressing though, he thought, as the end of her staff pressed into his crotch. There was no pain.

Yet.

"Lets start over. You've made me angry. You tried to take my money, threatened my life, and now you're going to play stupid. So lets start over. I'll ask you a question, and if you answer it right, I won't crush your manhood and leave you here, tied up, at dawn. Deal?" She whispered coldly.

He swallowed, hard. Short tempered, lacking knowledge but, he thought, very definitely good at politics. She has me, quite literally, by the balls.

"What do you want to know?" He said in a monotone voice.

"What you know."

"Ok, well....I'm not a historian, not that there are many of them anymore. But...."

*****

Hundred of years ago, the world had been different. It had looked different, its people were different, and none of what currently was had gripped it and wrung it for blood.

It was said, he remarked, that mankind had been into space, walked on the moon. That they used devices to travel in the sky - he had even seen one once, an ancient pile of rusted metal and its deformed plastic frame. A very different world.

There was violence then, too, but it was a different kind. At least some of it had a purpose.

No one remembers exactly when it happened, but one day everything just changed. The world twisted, continents twisting and tearing and move thousands of miles, changing the face of the world in a matter of hours. The ground had become an enemy to man in that time, had killed without mercy men and women in their millions.

And a period of time after that, as the world regrouped, its nations and kingdoms still relatively intact (relative to now, anyway), a war began.

That was when the barons, the five of the, appeared. They and another mysterious entity waged an unholy war against humankind.

The werewolves appeared during this time. So did the vampires, and the undead and liches and dragons and all the beasts, mythical and fanciful. The war lasted many years. Billions died during it, a thing that the world had called world war three.

Some had called it armageddon. But when it was over, and the world governments lay broken and fragmented, shattered beyond hope of recovering, the world didn't end. Instead, it continued on, regressed. Society changed to adapt. The mostly peaceful world flared with feudal war again as the survivors of the apocalypse regathered.

And, above all, the return of magic. The Barons, rulers of the realms where man had lost, wielded it. The strange man to whom they owed their allegiance was reputed to be immortal and untouchable.

Much beyond, was there anything else that needed knowing?

*****

"Of course, things from that era before hell came to earth still exist. But this world is decaying now." Nate finished. He looked at her, expectantly.

She was staring off into the middle distance, but eventually directed her attention back to him again. "All of that?" She whispered.

It explained the ancient cities. It explained the ancient roads, and many other things. While she had slept, the world had moved on.

Faster and faster, towards the end. And then it had all come tumbling down to the war drum of a new kind of terror, and most of man had fallen or bowed to its wishes.

And then there were those whom had fought and kept the evil at bay.

"The allied lands of the south?" She asked.

"Under control of the Church, mostly. The kings still squabble with themselves, occasionally. But the Barons have not moved in decades."

She leaned back, lost in thought.

"Gonna untie me?" He asked.

"In the morning. I've much to think on. And a decision to make."

A decision on what to do...

The fire burned, and both slept.

Lightly.

*****

The roar of the falls had become more of a physical force than a sound, boring into her head without any concession to decibels, not that she would have known what a decibel was.

They stood, side by side, at the foot of a bridge spanning a gorge that was deep beyond thinking. The horse had been set free. Bringing a stolen animal was, in the girls own mind, a bad idea.

Looking over the precipice one could see the river, distantly. It was probably a mile down, a sheer wall of rock for a hundred feet breaking into spires, shelves and broken stone until all was lost in the steady mist pouring away from the rock face that the river bellowed over and down. She stared wordlessly into the abyss, much of it lost in deep shadow as evening drew in and the sun began to sink towards the mountains in the west.

The gorge and its river were magnificent, but not even a tenth so much as the bridge was. At this place, where the gap was narrower, the bridge extended at least a half a mile over a gulf of nothing. It had been constructed of that strange concrete (she shuddered as she thought of the fate of the woman whom had told her what it was, involuntarily) as the city she had been through, as the buildings of much of the land she had seen had been. It arched gracefully, a thing of amazing strength and beauty, screaming defiance to the world and perhaps to God Himself.

"One of the wonders left us by the ancients." Nate remarked, shouting to be heard over the perpetual roar of the falls. He began to walk sedately over the cracked surface of the bridge, which was wide enough to allow an entire army passage, men standing forty abreast at least.

She didn't move, staring at the thing with a sense of disbelief.

She looked along the ancient surface of the road, for that surely had to have been what crossed it once. At the far end was a much more crude construction, quarried stone blocks making an enclosing wall that blocked the other side of the chasm. It had the look of abuse. So did the great iron portcullis which barred entry to the other side. She assumed there would be a huge wooden gate to seal the portal entirely in times of need. For now, the iron portcullis served. There was smaller gate set into it, and that was open. There were guards, but her sight was limited and any great details were lost to her.

With a shudder of suppressed fear and wonder, she put on foot onto it, and then began her way, not attempting to catch up with Nate.

That was another story altogether.

When she reached halfway across the span, she looked over its sides and quickly looked back. No visual illusion at all, the depths defied explanation. The faint mist dampened her, coming off the frothing wall of water a quarter mile upstream. She turned and hurried across, unwilling to look into that abyss again if she could.

She neared the far side. She could make out the guards.

Both were carrying spears. swords and, although she herself was no expert, perhaps more of those strange devices, guns. The weaponry she recognized looked expertly wrought and strong; of the guns she knew nothing, if they were guns at all. Of armor, both had iron helmets, the cross welded on the forehead and burnished to a painful shine. Chain mail with the seal of the church emblezoned in gold, padded leather armor beneath, and leather trousers. If ever a guard of the Church she had seen, these were.

The parapets towered over the open road. Along the wall, faces and further guards showed, equally dressed in such finery.

Nate had said that the Church was powerful. She had always remembered it as being such, couldn't reason for herself why it wouldn't still be. She approached, twenty paces or so behind Nate. He dug inside his shirt for something, came out with a grubby piece of parchment or paper. As she caught up, she caught the tail end of their conversation, despite the roar of the falls.

"....no papers. She's a refugee." Nate growled, shortly. The man on the left shrugged. "Rules are rules. No one passes without a writ of transit. It is the Will of the Pope. The darkness gathers. Soon it will strike, and we must remain vigilant." He remarked with a bored, disinterested tone of voice. She drew up along side Nate, yet a few steps apart all the same.

"Who're you?" The other man intoned, shifting his spear. "Where's your papers?" He rumbled out a second challenge.

"Seska, and I've not any of these papers which you speak." She said, curtly. Bearing and carriage should have bespoke of a noble birth, but the man seemed not to notice.

"Where're you from?" Said the man on the left. She had the distinct, uncomfortable feeling she got when she was around such men as these.

"I come from a place called England, if you know of it." She said loudly, to be heard.

Both of the guardsmen looked at one another, then back at her. "Never heard of it." "Where's that?" They chorused together.

She simply shrugged, as if to say 'What did it matter?'

The man on the right sighed, gestured with his spear. "Get in. I could get in trouble, you know." He grumbled, kicking the gate open. It opened with a great shriek of un-oiled metal.

Nate ducked through, grabbed her by the arm and drug her through quickly.

They entered a squalid street filled with rubbish and detritus. The place smelled faintly of unwashed bodies and excrement. The street on which they walked was little more than a muddy path between mud brick buildings. It smelled familiar, like many places she'd been back...back before. It was quiet now, night having finally fallen in their crossing of the bridge. A man, dressed in the same finery that the gate guards had, was going down this street, lighting torches. Behind him the flame-lit glow described more of the same, muddy filth.

The gate slammed shut behind her. She caught a sarcastic comment about England, but couldn't understand it if she wished to. Instead she found herself practically being dragged behind Nate.

Using some of her money, they found lodgings for the night.

*****

Dawn crept up. Before it had entirely lit the skies to the east, the sidhe was up and about, paying and leaving the inn. She stepped into a predawn city street, somewhat squalid, stepped off and turned towards the south. In the distance, from behind the walls, she could hear the distinct roar of the falls endlessly tumbling into the chasm. Over it came the faint sounds of the early risers hitting the streets.

The gate-road didn't widen, simply and abruptly ended in a much wider avenue. From here, she could see the fortress - a massive thing of stone and steel and God alone knew what else. It towered over the small village, perched on a crag of rock jutting from the greater ridge, which extended several thousand feet into the air, its uppermost heights still encrusted in snow despite the lateness of summer. It overlooked a narrow valley that climbed, by bends and curves and slight climbs, all the way to the summit of the range.

A military fortress to be reckoned with. She turned from it, disinterested, and searched the rooftops for the classic and unique shape of a church. She spotted it at the far end of the very road she stood on. She turned, and began to walk the way.

This was much larger than the gate road, evidence that the gate was seldom used. It wasn't clean, but cleaner than the back streets by a large degree. It was easily as large as the bridge Nate and herself had used to get here.

She walked at a deliberate pace, shoulders set and back straight. A noble lineage, her steps and manner spoke. Of higher breeding.

She was. But even if she hadn't, the look was what she was after. She was a stranger in a strange land. She had to look like she had every right to be here...it would allay suspicion. The guards at the city gate might be lax, but not all would be.

As she drew nearer, she noticed smaller and smaller details. The church was rectangular of build, with very pronounced angles and corners. Despite this, with the scroll work on the walls and beautiful stained glass set in wrought iron, the effect was not so drab and unappealing. Every detail of the building seemed to speak of wealth beyond that of the city in which it resided. The buildings closest to it were definately demure by comparison, save for the house next to the church itself. In fact, the rest of the city was more of a slum; dirty, vulgar compared to the beauty the church had saw fit to put here, in order to bring light to the edge of darkness.

A silent, hidden anger stirred in her. She put it down without thought, for there was no way to avenge what had been done so long ago.

She drew to the steps of the church, appraised its oaken doors with handles wrought from silver. Again that distant twinge of rage popped into her conscious mind, and once again it was dislodged. She walked up the stairs, pulled the doors open.

The inside was candle-lit. The pews stretched to either side of the isle almost the fall length of the primary building, ending in a raised floor and a pulpit on top of a three step dais. Emblazoned high toward the ceiling of the rear was a massive stained glass window. The individual pieces of glass, cunningly colored and placed, made a piece meal image of Christ on the cross. In the left northern corner, to the left as she saw it, was a statue chiseled of granite in the likeness of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her polished eyes gleamed, an undefined expression in them. The other side of held a stone likeness of Joseph, crafted with equal quality. Set directly behind the pulpit itself, raised high enough to be clearly visible to all, was the chalice, wrought of gold and silver.

A few worshipers occupied the pews to the front. But the priest himself was not present. She paid brief attention to the paintings on each side of the church, the stages of the cross, the confessionals. She turned, letting the heavy doors swing shut with a hollow thud. The city continued to awaken in fits and starts, small and quiet groups of people exiting houses to do their daily chores. She descended the steps, and turned toward the other house, built next to the church and just as richly.

Greed. Things hadn't changed, and she doubted they ever would.

She reached the door, and knocked on it politely.

*****

"I'm with the Church, Father, or at least I was." She said simply as she settled into a fine chair in Father Hadleys' study. She stared at the Father intently, he seated behind an ebony desk. He was a rather short man with a sharp, intelligent look to his plain brown eyes. What illuminated them now was not wonder at such a relic as she sitting before him, but rather wary non-belief. He leaned forward and folded his hands in front of him.

"Frankly, I do not believe you, my child. 'tis a sin to lie, you know." He said gravely. She noticed his eyes kept drawing themselves to her own, which were pretty but useless.

"I worked with the Dominican friars, long before you were born." She said, level of tone. "Our task - those agents like myself of the Church - was to convert others like myself, to spare them from purification through pain."

The old priest laughed coolly, rubbed at his forehead. "Such purification hasn't been done in centuries." He said. She noted to false note to his voice, realized the Father himself was lying to her, and filed this away for future investigation. "And in any case, there is no record of such a thing as a sidhe." That seemed to close that discussion.

She had, in the hours since her arrival, tried to explain her capacity to the Church. It was a hopeless task, for the gulf of time between now and then was immense. The Father was of course right. Very few records were kept during those dark days, when the Church sought to stamp out heresy in its entirety, scouring countryside and town and village clean. She and her people were a well kept secret, partly because the Church feared them and their ability - and this was her own conclusion, drawn after a long period of working with humans. In shape and mind human and sidhe were nearly identical. After appearance, the two were immensely different.

"I've nothing further to say, then, Father. I'd hoped to have found some work with the Church. Evil is afoot again, and though I know naught of this world that I find myself in, I know that what I have seen could very well be the direct tool of Lucifer himself upon this mortal realm." She spoke, sincerity in every word. Father Hadley settled back into his chair, musing. There was a look of much amusement on his face.

"You require papers? A writ of transit to pass through the allied kingdoms?" He queried, abruptly and business like. He opened a drawer in his desk, and pulled a sheet of paper such as nothing that the sidhe had ever seen. He signed his name at the bottom of the paper. "Your name?"

"Seska."

"Full name?"

"Just Seska. I've no last name, none that I could remember in any case." She replied. The priest seemed irritated at that, but waved it off.

"You've money I hope? These aren't free. I think a piece of silver will cover the cost." He said. He opened another drawer and pulled a money box out, set it on top of the desk. Metallic jingling sounded from within, muffled by the lid. He wrote other things on the paper, but she didn't pay heed, instead digging in the coinpurse she had liberated along with the horse. She found a piece of silver, coarsely minted, and set it on the desk with a deliberate k-thick. She stared at him, then.

He snatched the coin, opened the box and tossed it in with the rest. It clinked as it landed on other coins, and she saw the reflection of gold, silver, and bronze before he jealously shut the lid and put it back in the drawer. He handed her the paper, wordlessly.

"Thank you, Father." She whispered, rising to her feet. He raised a hand.

"Tell your lie no more. You should confess your sin before you leave this city, my child. I cannot force you, but I suggest it strongly." He said, after he had her full attention. She dipped in a curtsy and backed out of the room, leaving the Father to his business and his money.

After she had gone, after he had heard the front door click closed, he rose and walked swiftly to the back of his office, knocked on a wooden door. It opened on well oiled hinges in a silken silence.

A man, hooded and robed in black, waited there.

"See what you can dig up on something called a 'sidhe'. I remember something about that which that young lady described..." He said, trailing off uncertainly. The man in black nodded his understanding, and left. Down a dark hallway and into some other part of this lowly church complex at the edge of civilization.

He closed the door, turned and went back to his study, musing.

*****

She hadn't made it more than fifty yards from the church and the priests' dwelling when Nate caught her.

"Good morning to you too!" He said, overly cheerful as he grabbed her by the arm. She started at the unfamiliar touch, then scowled at him.

"Why do you persist in bothering me, thief?" She replied acidly.

He recoiled slightly, then grinned uneasily. "Not every day you find a young girl wandering the Wilds, claiming to be from the distant past. You know thats a crock of shit if ever I'd heard, and no one is going to believe it." He chuckled, walking beside her.

"I've no need of a thief where I'm going." She snapped, and tired to walk faster. He kept pace.

And that struck another thought in her head. What exactly was she going to do, where was she going to go? She'd been tossed into the middle of a world she no longer understood.

If it hadn't been for the dark man, dressed in his business suit with his burning eyes, she would have just tried to fit back in, find her place in society again. But the image of those burning eyes would never leave her mind, at least not for long. They, like the man himself, were unsettling.

And the Father she had just spoken to had scoffed at the presence of such a man even existing.

"Its only the Barons, my child, that spoil mankind and spread heresy and suffering. Its always been them, since the day of reckoning some three hundred fifty years ago."

Yes. But, even though she knew so little, she had a feeling that the entity she'd met was the puppet master, and the Barons were the puppets. There was no simple way to justify her opinion. And yet, someone needed to know.

Someone who would do something, even if it ended up being a great wild goose chase.

He continued to walk beside her, despite her express desire to be rid of him.

"You'll want to head into the inner fiefs of the Alliance, I'll wager." He finally said, after they'd been walking in silence amid the city's now thronging crowds.

She watched as the plainly dressed citizens hurried in the early morning light, going about shopping and work in sunlight the color of golden syrup. "Someone needs to hear what I've seen. Someone who will listen." She grumbled, more to herself.

"If we hurry, we should be able to catch the morning train over the mountains." He said.

"Train?" She asked, dumbfounded by the word and its meaning.

"Just follow me." He said, then began to weave through the crowds, following the busy street ever westward.

*****

She stared in silent wonder at the structure in front of her.

It was massive, at least as wide as the street and a fifth of a mile in length. It had an ancient look, made of concrete and wood. From the end she could see, four pairs of gleaming metal tracks ran, each pair running for five hundred yards at least. The tracks crossed and recrossed through the entire straight stretch, eventually branching off and heading their own ways, out of town and into the wilds.

A great steel beast sat on the tracks closest her, smoke trailing lazily away from the smokestack. It looked a fearful and powerful thing, sitting sedately on the rails in comparative silence. Behind it, connected by some mechanism that she had no clue as to design or operation, were several cars, shaped like boxes with wheels and a roof over it. Windows peered darkly from under the overhang of the roof.

Nathan pulled her along gently, mounting a set of serious stairs.

"These places are usually one of the few that still have 'electricity'." He said, a sense of wonder in his voice. She found it was intoxicating, and couldn't suppress a feeling of excitement herself.

They reached the top of the steps and pushed open a heavy set of wooden doors. Inside was bright, clear light such as the sidhe had never seen. It took her breath away.

Light gleamed from lamps that ran along the ceiling in parallel rows. There seemed hundreds of them gleaming like stars set into a concrete sky, pouring blue-white light that made shadows sharp and well defined. To either side of her the building extended for another five hundred feet, immense beyond need to be. At the souther end there were loading docks, with horse-drawn carts pulling their goods to the platform to await loading for shipment. In all her long life - a hundred three years before she was put into that torpor by....whatever it had been (burning eyes), she had never even dreamed of such a place as this. Nathan tugged at her arm, and she pulled her attention away with visible effort.

What wonders had mankind achieved before its fall? She wondered on that thought as she was pulled through a sparse crowd of people flowing slowly but inexorably towards the far end. There was a counter of sorts there, people wearing uniform waiting behind them and dealing with other people one at a time.

"You can buy a ticket for both of us." He said, slyly. She seemed disinterested in his interest in a free ride. She reached into the coinpurse and pulled another silver piece out, handed it to him wordlessly while she studied the train, if that was in fact what the great iron beast and its cars were. She watched as people entered the cars through small doors at either end of each, showing a bit of something to attendants, clothed in like manner to those behind the counter.

"Wow, there's no need to push this kind of currency around. That'd be enough to buy a first class ticket for five people!" He exclaimed as he saw the kind of wealth she had casually presented him. She shrugged, indicating that she didn't care. He grinned, pocketed the silver, and pulled her quietly yet swiftly toward the counter.

"At least we'll be able to reach Demetia in relative comfort..." He whispered. It was apparent to her, without even asking, that his method of travel was often...no, always something a little bit....different, than this.

"Hopefully someone in Demetia will have better ears for the dispensation of wisdom and warning..." She grumbled aloud. He looked back for a moment, a perplexed look on his face. "Still thinking about that wierdo you saw back in the Wilds?" He queried.

He got no answer. They reached the ticket counter, purchased two first class cabins, and boarded the train.
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...
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Seska Dragonslayer
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Postby Seska Dragonslayer » Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:22 pm

IV. Blood Moon.

Darkness falls across the land
The midnite hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize yawls neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpses shell....

"Thriller"
-Micheal Jackson/Vincent Price


An eye for an eye;
Well before you go under...
Can you feel the resistance?
Can you feel the thunder?

"Lunatic Fringe"
-Red Rider




Her vision went red with a feral rage that overcame her meager willpower. As she dove into the fray, she howled with devilish delight, the first of the half dozen gathered against her exploding into a wet splash of crimson and flesh, clothing and armor rent under claws already dripping with blood and gore. The first went down minus a large chunk of his chest, sword clattering to the ground as he himself fell.

The second lost his face. The third put a sword through her thigh, and the exquisite agony buried her in further rage. The attacker had his throat ripped out, blood splashing down his body armor, hands coming to the gaping wound in a futile effort to save his life. The fourth, a broken back, the fifth a crushed skull, the sixth scoring an additional hit, his blade piercing the clothing of her chest and burying itself against her ribs.

She hauled him off his feet by his sword arm, and with the blade still lodged in her chest, gripped him by the throat and ripped his arm from its socket. Her gleeful, maddened eyes glistened as she watched the street drown in blood, watched as humans fled in abject terror. She lunged into the fleeing masses and began a killing spree of epic proportion.

*****

By midnight that night, a quarter of the people in town were dead. The beast herself was a scarred nightmare, bleeding from hundreds of wounds, many which should have been lethal.

She left the city, her primal mind buzzing and crackling with the thrill of the hunt complete. She drug the carcass of a fully grown man with her, and once safely outside the reach of the surviving humans' search parties.

Despite the taboo against it, human flesh was fantastic. She gorged herself and slept, slept deep.

Those wounds acquired healed with marked alacrity.

*****

Days passed as she wandered across the scrub lands, sated for a while.

As the time passed, her primitive mind grew, developed. At first she had been a killer, hungering only for blood and flesh and the extinction of life. Now, as she covered the ground her prey had wandered on many days before her, her mind began to evolve.

The base instincts held less and less sway. Other instincts, less intrinsic but all the more powerful, began to take hold - a kind of sinister programming the Lord had encoded in her subconscious mind.

And she evolved, slowly, as the days passed....growing smarter.

And smarter.

And smarter.

The killer had acquired a level of intelligence that, in its twisted magnificence, was a thing to behold with awe. And with it, a twisted personality, derived from the old and augmented to fit its new existence. And with that, a terrible purpose: To bring peace to Gods' children.

And the days continued to pass.

*****

She pulled the cloak close around her mostly bare body. Nothing in the universe could dampen the sexual nature that her new....incarnation put forth. But for now, it was muted, nothing but pitiless eyes the color of crimson. Even those were well hidden within the gloom of her hood.

The fact that it was raining made this a touch easier, she thought. It was a surprisingly clear thought, as most of her thoughts were becoming as her mind slowly came around and came to grips with the new reality that had been forced on it. There was still a faint thread of the old person in there.

But the Lord had been skillful; it could watch but could not react, and could not fade away. It wouldn't do, she thought as she crossed the broad, rutted dirt road she had been following, heading towards a solitary structure. A luckless homesteader, likely.

My, but how her mind had begun to conform with the killer instinct that this body demanded of it. Every nerve, every fiber rippled with hidden potency. The Lord had done good in making her what she was.

A perfect engine for His will. A chilling warmth, a kind of affection, flicked across her graceful face. It was the face of innocence, masking the reality of death. She had looked in a looking glass, and found the changes that He had made to her made her look much prettier...

Aye. And there was a solution to that primitive, fulfilling longing in her loins too. Maybe. The God would look out for His own, would He not? There was a saying, collected from some remote corner of the nothingness of the world, besot by greed and sin.

There will be water if God wills it.

She moved across the small dooryard with a fluid grace, supple limbs moving in a unison hard to describe.

As she reached the door, and rapped on it twice, she had come to realize that the God had put her here to do His bidding.

She had known she was special since her awakening, and in her twisted mind, she found that she liked the thought of being a Shepherd for the wayward souls of the world.

Footsteps sounded from within, a low grumble from the places' occupant (occupants? She thought she could smell a second smell, two distinct lives withing). Purification was what she brought to the wayward, to purify them so that they could return to the way of God Himself.

A deep warmth, a need of a very specific sort, burned in her belly.

The door opened. What she saw pleased her muchly.

Praise God.

*****

She stepped into the circle of light thrown by lantern and fireplace from within. As the light dashed the shadows to nothing, she pulled her hood back, drawing her robes closer to her body - both in an effort to affect modesty and to show the contours of her body more readily. Light fell upon eyes as white as snow, pupils of deep red shading on brown. There a sharp intelligence shone, radiating innocence despite that betrayed inner knowledge.

"Excuse me!" She exclaimed as a pike, the blade on it whetted so that it seemed to flow like liquid fire in the reflection of firelight, darted through the door. She dodged easily, but made a mockery of it, as if it had been a near thing. A head darted into the space between door and wall, and then vanished...then, after a space of a few seconds, returned. The pike clattered to the ground as the head cursed itself. It was a mans voice, but she couldn't make the features out yet, he silhouetted against the light of his home. As she backed off, he lunged out. grabbed her by her arm, and yanked her back into the house.

The door slammed shut.

"Just what in the nine hells do you think you are doing out there, lady!" He exclaimed, a mixture of surprise and scorn in his voice. "The things that wander out here at this time of night..." He trailed off, leaving the unwary woman to fill in the blanks.

Yeah. Like me. She thought rather coldly. She moved forward, pressing herself against him. He visibly recoiled, wary and uncertain, but said nothing.

"''Twas an ambush....I was with a caravan..." She began, sobbing; falling into an ingenious act. His look of shock at the news was apparent, easily read in his face. Now that her eyes had adjusted to the light of this cabin, she could make out his features clearly. Narrow face, high bones and a cleft chin to boot. Eyes in deep sockets, the color of burnished bronze, unsettling in a face as old as his.

She noted his build, scrawny but wiry, no doubt. Here was a man that probably lived off of such caravans as she had spoken, and had probably worked very little in the last many years. All these things about his stance and posture gave subtle clues that she herself was shocked to find falling so easily in place.

She advanced again, but this time he merely enfolded her in his arms, a man comforting a terrified woman. "It'll be ok now..." He whispered into her ear as she trembled against him.

She mimicked the look of terror that other heathens had shown her just before she ripped them apart, an act that both purified and sanctified their ascent unto Heaven. God had charged her with this duty Himself, a being of pure white in a land of black.

She was pushed away gently, then led by a hand into the greater room beyond. It smelled faintly of old wood ashes, smoke, and cured hides. There was only one door in the entire place, but it appeared seldom used; A bed, a couch, a table, these were the things that filled the room she now stood in. A wood stove stood open at one end of the room, its brilliant glow spreading light and warmth. It was too warm in this room, she realized.

Either that, or the presence of this man had caused a marked arousal of her own. She let the robe fall loose now, revealing tantalizing hints of flesh underneath, bare and supple and soft. A sort of musk slowly made its presence in the confined room.

She caught him looking, but he snapped his head back as if bitten, instead releasing her and wandering to the stove. He busied himself with something while she stepped timidly into the greater room.

From outside, a wolf howled. It was distant but eerie and haunting.

"He-hey!" He shouted as she went down in a faint. She lay where she was, askew on the ground. It was artful, she thought to herself in her feigned faint. Much of her body lay exposed to his eye, and between spellbinding beauty and her faint, enticing allure, she could feel the sudden desire open and burn within him. But not yet, no, not yet. Let him suffer with that for a while.

She was picked up and placed on the couch.

"Probably just tired..." He muttered to himself after a period of time, a mite disappointedly. She listened as he wandered off, busying himself with whatever mundane tasks the pagans amused themselves with during their off hours.

A long time passed.

Eventually, he went to bed.

*****

He stirred. And then snapped awake, momentarily alarmed. Then he relaxed, realizing the arm slung over his back was the woman whom he had brought in to safety. He settled back.

And then she stirred against him, deliberately rubbing her breasts against his back. She felt his awareness come fully awake, and relished it. He'd been at his guard when he opened his door, and even while she lay in her 'faint', torpid to the world. Now it was gone entirely, buried in the depth of his arousal. She slowly raised her head, bringing it to his ear.

"Roll over...now more than ever before I need to be comforted..." She whispered, her tone at once naughty and pleading. She didn't even need to hear his thoughts to know what he would do; men being ever such simple things, and so easy to manipulate. He obeyed the command, and she crawled lithely on top of him. She felt stiffness between her legs, delighted in the feel of his stiffened member, but still she refused his entry. Her angelic features were awash with a simple, devilish delight. She traced a finger along his belly, across his chest, to his neck.

She gripped him there, but it wasn't the tender caress of a lover. It was the grip of one of the fiends that prowled at night. He looked into her face in terror, and found that the eyes were blood red and beady, glittering with a malign intelligence beyond measure. Claws bit into his neck now, but they lacked the force necessary to kill. Her angelic smile had been profaned with fangs. Those were delicate and equally beautiful in their own manner.

"Be purged of your sin..." She purred at him, bending over. As she neared his face, she opened her mouth, and when what could have been the tender kiss of a lover reached his face, she bit his nose and a chunk of the flesh of his cheek out, spilling blood down the sides of his face and onto his bedsheets, pillows. He screamed in abject terror and untellable agony as she chewed and swallowed, then laughed delightedly like a child. She held him down by the throat, her body pinning him in place despite its apparent lightness. He flailed with his arms, grabbed at her hair, her arms, and attempted to claw at her face. He lost three fingers, which she crunched and swallowed as well, blood dripping down her chin and onto his chest.

"Bi....bitch!" He roared at her in pain and rage. It was his last word, as she silenced him by tearing his throat out and goring his chest with claws and teeth in three quick movements. He stilled, began to cool as she sat straddled on top of him. She worked his underclothing down, lay forward and began to smear herself in tattered bits of his flesh and blood. She laughed cruelly all the while, raising herself upon him and working with rhythmic, methodic motions.

After a time, after she had tired of such pleasures as his corpsified flesh had to offer, she crawled off and down, and lay on the floor amid a growing pool of his blood.

There, she slept. In the morning she devoured the last traces of him, and left sated.

*****

The city before her lay nestled in the darkness between ranges of mountains, built upon a wide and barren valley floor. Its leading edges extended almost halfway across the desert floor, consisting of mud brick buildings and other, far older structures left over from the times before. Halfway into this settlement rose massive walls, easily a hundred feet tall and of unknowable thickness and strength. Behind them was a fortress, a crudely constructed keep of rudely dressed stone and timber. A standard flapped lazily in the errant breezes, depicting a horned daemon.

The fief of the Baron Greed, another apostle of the Lord himself. The predator grinned as she looked upon Greeds' domain. She cocked her head, joints in her neck crackling and popping loudly, stretched, and then began to descend into the valley itself, a desert populated by sands and hardpan, dried arroyo beds and cracked lake bottoms.

The first sign that her approach had been noted came from the parapets, signals flashed to outward sentries. She grinned even wider, wondering what kind of pathetic resistance they could put up against the incarnate will of God. She drew nearer to the shimmering city.

She passed through the dead outer reaches, dark buildings standing abandoned to the elements and time. After a time, she reached the inhabited sectors of this old city, noting the peeking eyes from dark doorways and windows cracked open. Even here there was a perpetual silence, the sound of the repressed masses that bore Greeds' rule in quiet rememberance of better days. It wasn't until the reached the outer wall of the citadel that she met any kind of resistance, and that brief.

She approached a heavy wooden gate set into the wall. A few guards patrolled the roof, but there were no sentries at the gate. Those pacing on the wall gave her a brief, curious glance, but then returned to the dull task of pacing the heights, keeping out imagined invaders in this land of recent quiet.

She beat on the gate three times, each blow a resounding, echoing boom from the inside. There was no answer.

"Open this gate in the name of God!" She snarled loudly. Her voice echoed across the silent city. There was no answer to this, either.

She had traveled the path of her prey until she reached the middle of the scrub lands, where a strange compulsion compelled her to go further west, deeper into the desert ranges.

Having been thus diverted from a potentially exhilarating activity, she was not about to be stopped by several hundred pounds of sunbaked wood that would no doubt attained an almost steel-like quality. She turned her attention to the door again, put one palm on each door, dug in with claws extended from their sheathes in her flesh, and push.

Every tendon, every sinew, every single muscle in her body stood out with the effort. Nothing happened, not at first, as sweat began to pour down her body in imagined rivers. The cloth wrapped around her chest and the ragged scraps that she had tied around her waist in a mockery of modesty began to darken with it.

And then something in the gate house shrieked. One door moved an inch, gave ground slowly. She shifted all of her weight and strength to that door, digging the claws of her feet into the cobble stones for traction. Above her, someone shouted a challenge, a command to cease and desist. She ignored that, and the sounds of a lot of running feet. The door gave and gave and gave, but finally stopped. Try though she might, she could not open it another inch. She fell back, panting and flinging sweat from her brow, then ducked through the two or so foot gap she had made.

On the other side stood a score of armed men, all in gleaming chainmail all with brightly polished spears and swords in hand. She glared at them, her eyes briefly taking on a faint crimson glow.

A single man detached himself from the gathered platoon of Greeds' soldier. He wore the insignia of rank - in essence, he looked much more cleanly shaven and his body armor had a certain gleam that spoke of sleeves of wrought gold. He stalked towards her, a naked blade in one hand, a hateful and deadly look on his face.

"Just what the fuck do you think you're doing, woman?" He snarled as he approached. He brandished his sword menacingly at her. "This is the Barons keep, this is his property. Must be new. Get the fuck out of here before the Baron finds out, and maybe I won't have to cut your fucking head off." He roared.

The moment he was within distance of a lunge, she did so. He didn't have any clue the attack was coming, his look of surprise plain and lack of defense apparent. Blood flew as she ripped his throat out in one fluid movement, sending beads of bright crimson flying and raining on the ground. He dropped his sword and, falling to his knees, grabbed at his throat in a vain attempt to regain his breath. He fell face forward and thrashed about feebly for a few moments, then lay still. Twenty weapons were brought to bear on her. With a sudden shotgun sprint, she dashed straight toward them, an inarticulate battlecry upon her lips.

The first sword she jumped on top of and, using it as a springboard, leapt over the heads of the whole lot. She landed with grace and casual ease, not even looking back as she sprinted toward the central structure.

The door into this proved no defense at all.

*****

The door closed and a stone statue close to hand propped against it, and she new wandered the silent halls. The fortress was a crude thing indeed, built more for show of strength than for any aesthetic purposes. Tall, vaulted ceilings ended somewhere in the gloom. There were no windows, only torches for light. That inner sense, that urgent coercion towards some goal that was not presently her own, it goaded her to move. She followed hidden pathways in a place even most of the guard knew relatively little about. There was a sense of ascending floors.

It took quite a long time, but eventually she exited the maze of passages into an antechamber of mundane proportion. A tall wooden door stood at the far end, the face of a horned daemon carved in a relief upon it. She crossed the room in silence, stood at the doors, and pushed them open.

There was a brief inrush of air, then silence. All beyond was black as pitch. She stepped in without hesitation, and closed the doors behind her.

"Who enters?" A disembodied voice bellowed in the darkness a short time after the doors had shut. The sound gave conscious realization to the size of the space she stood in. She remained silent.

Suddenly there was light as all the torches within lit at once, as if - no, for sure - by magic. Her eyes adjusted swiftly.

A man, human in shape, sat on a throne upon a dais. He sat with one leg astraddle an arm of his throne, and he looked very displeased.

"There had better be a damn good explanation for this, woman." He said coldly. He moved his legs and stood slowly, each movement slow as he stretched. "The penalty for entering my keep is bad enough, but now you put an irritant to me as well."

"That will be quite enough, Greed." Another male voice boomed. It had the harmonics of angels in song to the red haired woman. She snapped her attention to a gloomy corner of the room, and saw the Lord God in His glory before her.

Greed looked as if he was about to shout another admonishment against disturbance, but his face attained the quality of someone whom had been slapped suddenly. He opened his mouth soundlessly a couple of times. "Lord..." He said, finally, dropping to one knee.

The man with the burning eyes grinned unpleasently. "There's no need of that, Greed. Your loyalty is not to me, in any case. More to yourself, as you've gained the qualities of your office over the past centuries." The Lord spoke slowly, each word like a judgment. Greed recoiled, then rose. Resignation had drawn over his face.

"And why not, Lord, when you yourself have done nothing for a hundred years!" He growled back reproachfully. The Lord merely shrugged.

"Reason doesn't matter. Only the fact that it is, only that matters to Me. You look at your replacement." He said. Laughter cackled in his words though it was not allowed voice.

Greed dropped into a ready stance. The belief flickered in his mind, Aeyliea reflected. He really thought that he had a chance against God.

Sure enough, he lunged with incredible speed at the Lord. The man with the burning eyes merely side stepped him with even more amazing alacrity, batted away a bolt of flame spawned from a flickering torch, then side stepped another charge.

Greed made one last attempt. As fast as a flash of lightning, but when he got close enough to the businessman with burning eyes, he found himself in a strangle hold.

"I'll have none of that. The price for such treachery is easy enough to figure out, Greed. I will have no more of your mockery and secret plots against Me." The Lord intoned. He dropped to a knee, ramming Greed into the floor with bone crushing power. Bone broke, blood flowed freely where said bones pierced skin.

Greed screamed in agony. The Lord threw him into the wall behind him, sending dust cascading from the high ceilings and from cracks in the wall itself. Greed fell to the ground, lifeless eyes staring blankly at the two of them.

He turned with a clear disinterest, and stared at his lovely creation. "I had greater plans for you than simply killing a troublesome sidhe, even if you failed in that." He spoke slowly. There was a faint sound of displeasure in his voice at that last comment, but he didn't let the feeling betray itself on his face. "There are others hunting the last of them, in any case."

He walked across the room and stood in front of her.

"Now you will do My bidding. And this is what you shall do..."

*****

She raised the severed head of the Baron Greed above her head. She stood atop the steps into the courtyard within the fortress walls. Spread out before her was the entire encamped military force that had been at the disposal of Greed. A full four thousand men stood with arms drawn, staring with disbelief in their eyes and anger in their hearts. Many had advanced on her already, many had also blanched in terror once they got too close.

She radiated an aura of primal terror. And her eyes burned too, dimly. She took a few steps, men retreated a few steps. Then she grinned, elfin features twisted brutally by it.

"Look now upon the price of disobedience. I shall not tolerate any." Her voice boomed over the crowded masses. Not one ear missed it.

There were some angry murmurs among the crowd. The beast had to remind herself that their obedience was not with the lord God, but rather to whichever power they served.

No one knew of the Lord, and those who did died or served. Their sin couldn't be forgiven, but they could be ignored safely for now without causing undue offense to Him.

She focused on one of the nay sayers, and pressed with great haste through their number. Where she went a bubble of space formed and moved with her as men recoiled. The aura of purest evil that she put off was repulsive in the least to the baser creatures. Humans included.

She came upon a man who looked like all the rest in chainmail and steel helmets. He alone was not effected by that strange miasma of blackest fear. Instead, she swung a balled fist into the top of his head. Metal caved, gouts of blood splattering from under its edges. Bits of bone and grey jelly landed on the ground at the same time he did. She looked around, red hair mussed.

"The price of disobedience." She repeated, then turned and headed back towards the citadel. She stopped at the foot of the steps, momentarily bemused. She shook her head, remembering something. "Command staff come with me." She grumbled then started mounting the steps, two at a time.

A few men detached themselves from the rest and followed after she had entered and was out of sight.

*****

"You need to forget what your previous self knew of the world if you wish to remain in My favor." The dark man with the burning eyes told her. They stood side by side, looking out a window onto the suddenly busy keep. Men, armed and frantic, poured out of the opened gates into the city beyond, turning man, woman, and child out onto the streets. After being driven from their homes they were led, protesting and by force where necessary, into the general stream of humanity that flooded out onto the desert hardpan.

The Lord chuckled as he drew his valkyrie closer. He was thoroughly unconcerned by the dried gore on her exquisitely crafted flesh. He grinned unpleasantly at the parade of humanity heading out to the desert and beyond. "Such notions of morality and codes of justice as you might have once followed have no meaning anymore, now that you serve God. And with that in mind, you must learn to do what all others save for the beast that guards my borders have failed at. Rule with a heavy, brutal hand. They are only humans, forsaken by their false god." He rubbed his chin, and turned away from the scene below, walking nonchalantly with an arm about his beloved killer.

Aeyliea had taken over power here so fluidly it was unreal. Humans were willing to follow anyone who could stand tall and tell them where to go. Sheep. What they got was better than they deserved, a fit punishment for those who lived their life without any concern for the course they followed. The Lord had observed them through the centuries, and had been appalled. Even their precious Church had been riddled with rot....back in the times before all of this.

Before they had erased the sidhe and what they stood for from their histories.

He let go of Aeyliea, whom had remained quiet much of this fine, bitter desert morning. He crossed to the throne that Greed had once sat upon. The corpse of the Baron still lay crumpled and misshapen against the wall where he had tossed him. Eventually all that would remain would be his bones. This pleased the man with the firey eyes. It was so appropriate that another of his tools was allready on the path that all of them would follow soon enough.

He stared quietly at the back of the throne, then turned and settled into it heavily.

"Aeyliea?" He queried gently. She stirred, as if from a dream.

"Lord?" She replied just as softly. Fear and awe mingled in her voice, alongside a deeper emotion that the Lord understood and detested. In this special case He could overlook it.

"You will go with your fresh recruits. Take them to the border. Follow the sidhe and kill her. After that, I want you to take your ragged army deep into the humans' domain. And I want you to kill and maim them by their thousands."

She nodded in silence, still awestruck by His presence.

"And I do not care about your losses in this endeavor. As your forces fall, so shall they be reborn anew." He grinned at that. Aye, they would rise alright. Misshapen, gored and dead, but unstoppable and terrifying in their numbers. Yes. The humans would blanch away from this terrible army and die in a rout great enough to be retold in songs.

The armies of the Lord did not, on the whole, have much to do with music. He raised a hand and dismissed his most beloved and cherished of minions - and after so short a time! - with a casual gesture. She bowed and left by the way she came in silence.

Even here he could see the needlework that spoke its bitter language to him. Even now the tapestry was being woven, and he could see the signs of defeat rising all around.

But the gears of destruction had allready been engaged. He only hoped that his final act would be the ultimate snub to Fate, as it were.

What was the use of rewriting history if you couldn't alter your own? Pondering this point while mulling over the details of the latest exploits, the Lord vanished from this place, leaving only two burning orbs hanging where his eyes had been.

After a while, those vanished too.

*****

He had to run to catch up with Seska and her newly aquired entourage of the Churchs' finest. He'd been late getting off the train - detained by the porter for an erroneous reason. While Nathan had his suspicions as to why, they could not yet be substantiated. Not without proof. Unlike the vast majority of the populace here and in other places, he wasn't another of the lambs to be led to the slaughter. Not by the church, not by the local governments - in his mind, they really were one and the same. The Church controlled everything, and if one had yet to be jaded by their doctrines, one could see very well the corruption that had rotted its heart out over the last two or so centuries.

A phrase came to mind whenever he contemplated this. Power corrupts, ultimate power corrupts ultimately. SInce that fated day many hundreds of years ago, when the world governments fell and left society bereft of an authority figure, the Church had stepped in and grabbed the reins. They had brought the spiral of destruction that had started then to a halt, yes, but in the process something of their message had been lost.

He drew up alongside the Sidhe, breathing heavily from the exertion despite himself. She didn't spare him a sideways glance, spoke not a word to him. Even now, her carriage enchanted him as it had since the first time he had seen her. It was disturbing. He'd made it all the way through his life without the cumbersome concept of 'love' to hold him back, and all of a sudden he found himself becoming ever more smitten by this strange woman who claimed to be of an era long, very long since past.

They walked in silence, letting the clergymen lead the way. She looked about every now and again, still very clearly awestruck by the achievements of mankind since she had last been awake (assuming her story was truth and not complete fabrication; It was becoming harder to believe that she could ever lie about anything, but in these times - as the world descended further and further into darkness, it became ever harder to read the hearts and minds of those inhabitants that managed in this chaotic world.) In the distance, he saw the Cathedral of Demetia rising, towering over the surrounding cityscape as easily as a mountain rises above its foothills. It was a grand thing, built of cleanly dressed stone and white-washed until the very stone itself seemed to shine. The cross, the Christ nailed upon it, overlooked the city in solemn dignity that the Church itself now seemed to lack. In that massive, elegant structure lay a good portion of the hierarchy of the church.

He looked ahead to the clergymen that led them at their hurried pace. Whatever the need was that had called them to bring the strange, blind woman must be pressing indeed. They walked doubletime, and kept looking back to make sure their charge followed. In due time, they reached their destination and the both of them took up station on either side of the great ironwood doors, looking grim in this fresh morning light. The sidhe stood there, awaiting some kind of command, and such command was given with a mere gesture. When Nathan himself stepped forward to follow, just as Seska herself entered through the narrow crack that had been opened to let her through, hands restrained him.

"The Cardinal wishes to see only the woman at this time." Said the man who held him by the arm. There was a look of strong reproach gleaming in his eyes; Nathan knew very much better than to press his luck with the clergymen, even if they were the lowest of the low among the Mighty And Exalted of the church. Rather than pressing his luck, he simply shrugged and turned, walking back the way he'd come.

Whenever the Cardinal finished with whatever business he had with the woman, he'd find her again.

He'd done it several times allready, hadn't he? And he wasn't about to lose this fantastic woman from a time long gone, not now, not ever.

He turned down a side alley, and headed into the heart of the city, towards one of his old haunts. Perhaps there would be some new information floating about that could prove interesting.

*****

He pushed his way through the batwing doors, and grimaced at the familiar and and everpresent stench of soured beer and rotten sawdust. If it came to it, this was about the furthest place you could get from a classy joint. The Head, as it was called, was a gathering place for various elements of the ctty's undesirables. Would have to be, he was there after all, right? Right. And after a lifetime of failed crime, he could allready see that he never would be able to get into the classy joints, because he'd never be able to successfully steal enough money to consider himself rich.

Eight different heists. He began to count on his mental fingers just how much money he had managed to bag in these jobs, and wasn;'t very surprised to dsicvoer that he could count the proceeds on one hand. They say crime didn't pay. They were right in that regard, at least. Or, more precisely, it didn't pay him.

He settled into an unoccupied table, glancing briefly at the serving wench as she came around and just as quickly turning away, waving her off. He wasn't here to get himself hammered. He had a sneaking suspicion things might get rough soon enough. That was a gut instinct, and it was another of those things he had a tendancy to listen to religiously. It had saved his bacon a number of times, would most likely save his ass several more before his luck, thin though it may be, finally would run out. He leaned back, getting comfortable, and let his mind drift to the hushed conversations that were going on around him. It was one of the finer things about taverns; people who became intoxicated seldom learned that what they thought of as conspiratorial voices were in fact extremely loud and slurred whispers. He could spend half an hour in here and glean all the information and rumor he wanted without saying a single word to anyone, and he liked that just fine. He might be an undesirable himself, but there was a line to be drawn. He was a professional thief, not a killer.

His mind paused.

Ok. Not a killer in the standard sense of the word. The people whom lived north of the border did not, in his mind, count as people. Granted, it wasn't their choice, persay, that they lived under the tyrant rule of the Barons, but that didn't matter. They provided not only the food that fed those dreaded warlords of the norths' army, but more often than not provided recruits for the more....interesting units that ranged from time to time across the borders on their errant killing sprees.

With these thoughts presenting themselves briefly in his mind, he commenced to listening. What might be the word of THIS day?

*****

The door clicked shut behind her. Two armed holy men had walked through after leading her into this place, this office of inexplicable wealth. They not only wished to protect the man whom dwelt here most of the day long, but wished to prevent her from leaving before the Cardinal himself dismissed her.

And he sat behind a light colored teak desk in a leather desk chair that she strongly doubted many of the rich would be able to afford. Miniature statuary stood on the top of his desk, depicting the Virgin Mary and Christ, and the cross. A handful of paper was scattered in a clearly organized mess in front of him, and he looked up from this as she entered, his face seeming to radiate warmth.

Ackward though her unnaturally sight might be, she had little trouble identifying how false that appearance was.

"Please, do come and sit. Make yourself comfortable in my presence, my daughter." He said kindly. He gestured to one of two leather chairs that were placed in front of his desk. She noted that these were smaller and would keep their occupants just a slight bit lower than the Cardinal himself; something clearly intended for its psychological effect. The sidhe didn't know the word psychological, but the concept of it would be easily grasped, and its use in this situation equally understood.

She crossed the room slowly, taking in everything at the same time her blank eyes stared straight forward. She spotted many things out of the ordinary with the room - things people of ordinary sight would surely miss.

"What do you want of me?" She queried as she took her seat. The Cardinals face split in a slight frown that was nevertheless covered up in an eyeblinks' time.

"As Gods' servant, and as others of my ilk that you've chanced to meet before getting here have come to know..... Well. Lets just say that the Church has something to gain with you. We would like your help." The Cardinal said. There was a hint of ice in the words, but like the frown, it was there and gone quick. She caught it, regardless.

Seska leaned to one side of her seat. "I've worked for you before, the Church anyway. Yon priest at the border didn't really believe what I told him. I dare say I don't expect much better from you." She said, coldly. A dangerous light flickered in her eyes. Ah, yes. The Church. Her temporary amnesia, for that most certainly had to be the only reason she had spoken to any member of the Church since her awakening.

The nature of the beast was well disguised. She did not count either the Church or its members among her friends.

"Yes," He replied dryly, "you have."

"As I understand it, my kind are dead." Not a question.

"Yes."

"Then there could be no possible use for me, to you."

"On the contrary. These are end times-" He began. The door leading into his office opened, and a holy man hurried through it. The Cardinal opened his mouth to scold the man, but he closed his mouth after the man had whispered into his ear, and then hurried out with equal haste.

The Cardinal sat there, silent for a time. Finally, he stirred.

"You must excuse me, Seska. Duty calls. I must ask that you not leave the city until I can get ahold of you again; 'tis very important that we speak.

"There's just something that demands my attention."

He stood up, and hurried out of the room, robes billowing behind him. After he had left, the two armed men whom had escorted her here entered the room, and stood silently. She looked at them with a scowl on her face, then walked between them. The turned and followed.

Not leave the city......riiiiiiiight.

*****

The back of his chair rested on the rear wall of the tavern. He had begun to doze - boring stuff today.

His siesta was cut abruptly as a man slammed through the batwings, shouting something.

He blinked the sleep back, and listened.

And blinked again, and tried to hear what was said one more time just to be certain he had heard correctly.

Thinking back on it, it was actually a fairly good reason for the panic that hit the tenants of that bar, just then.
GM Ordo Draco | Co-GM Demonic Reality | GM Revenant & Calael
And when the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go.
And you've just had some kinda mushroom, and your mind is moving low.
Ask Seska. I think he knows...
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Seska Dragonslayer
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